Chapter Nine: Interacting with Sources


Photo of a library card catalog
“Card catalog” by Andy Langager is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Less than one generation ago, the biggest challenge facing research writers like you was tracking down relevant, credible, and useful information. Even the most basic projects required sifting through card catalogues, scrolling through endless microfiche and microfilm slides, and dedicating hours to scouring the stacks of different libraries. But now, there is no dearth of information: indeed, the Internet has connected us to more information than any single person could process in an entire lifetime.

Once you have determined which conversation you want to join, it’s time to begin finding sources. Inquiry-based research requires many encounters with a diversity of sources, so the Internet serves us well by enabling faster, more expansive access. But while the Internet makes it much easier to find those sources, it comes with its own host of challenges. The biggest problems with primarily Internet-based research can be boiled down to two issues:

  • There is too much out there to sift through everything that might be relevant, and
  • There is an increased prominence of unreliable, biased, or simply untrue information.
photo backend of a server with ethernet switch
“Another Ethernet Switch in the Rack” by hdaniel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This chapter focuses on developing strategies and techniques to make your research and research writing processes more efficient, reliable, and meaningful, especially when considering the unique difficulties presented by research writing in the digital age. Specifically, you will learn strategies for discovering, evaluating, and integrating sources.


Chapter Vocabulary



a research tool that organizes citations with a brief paragraph for each source examined.

a posture from which to read; reader makes efforts to appreciate, understand, and agree with the text they encounter.

a direct quote of more than four lines which is reformatted according to stylistic guidelines.

the process of finding new sources using hyperlinked subject tags in the search results of a database.

the process of using a text’s citations, bibliography, or notes to track down other similar or related sources.

an argument determining relative value (i.e., better, best, worse, worst). Requires informed judgment based on evidence and a consistent metric.

an argument exploring a measurable but arguable happening. Typically more straightforward than other claims, but should still be arguable and worth discussion.

an argument that proposes a plan of action to address an issue. Articulates a stance that requires action, often informed by understanding of both phenomenon and evaluation. Often uses the word “should.” See call-to-action.

a technique for evaluating the credibility and use-value of a source; researcher considers the Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose of the source to determine if it is trustworthy and useful.

the degree to which a text—its content, its author, and/or its publisher—is trustworthy and accurate.

the verbatim use of another author’s words. Can be used as evidence to support your claim, or as language to analyze/close-read to demonstrate an interpretation or insight.

a posture from which to read; reader makes efforts to challenge, critique, or undermine the text they encounter.

a part or combination of parts that lends support or proof to an arguable topic, idea, or interpretation.

a voice that disagrees with the writer or speaker included within the text itself. Can be literal or imaginary. Helps author respond to criticism, transition between ideas, and manage argumentation.

author reiterates a main idea, argument, or detail of a text in their own words without drastically altering the length of the passage(s) they paraphrase. Contrast with summary.

a psychological effect experienced by most audiences: the opening statements of a text are more memorable than much of the content because they leave a ‘first impression’ in the audience’s memory. Contrast with recency effect.

a psychological effect experienced by most audiences: the concluding statements of a text are more memorable than much of the content because they are more recent in the audience’s memory. Contrast with primacy effect.

a phrase or sentence that directs your reader. It can help you make connections, guide your reader’s interpretation, ease transitions, and re-orient you to your thesis. Also known as a “signal phrase.”

a rhetorical mode in which an author reiterates the main ideas, arguments, and details of a text in their own words, condensing a longer text into a smaller version. Contrast with paraphrase.

a 1-3 sentence statement outlining the main insight(s), argument(s), or concern(s) of an essay; not necessary in every rhetorical situation; typically found at the beginning of an essay, though sometimes embedded later in the paper. Also referred to as a “So what?” statement.

the degree to which a text is usable for your specific project. A source is not inherently good or bad, but rather useful or not useful. Use-value is influenced by many factors, including credibility. See credibility and CRAAP Test.


Research Methods: Discovering Sources

Let’s bust a myth before going any further: there is no such thing as a “good” source. Check out this video from Portland Community College.

Screenshot of video from Portland Community College on Evaluating Sources to Find Quality Research.
Video: Evaluating Sources to Find Quality Research by PCC Library

What makes a source “good” is actually determined by your purpose: how you use the source in your text is most important to determining its value. If you plan to present something as truth—like a fact or statistic—it is wise to use a peer-reviewed journal article (one that has been evaluated by a community of scholars). But if you’re trying to demonstrate a perspective or give evidence, you may not find what you need in a journal.

Your Position

A Supporting Fact (Something you present as factual)

An Example that Demonstrates Your Position (Something that you present as a perspective)

Women are unfairly criticized on social media.

A peer-reviewed scholarly article:

Sills, Sophie, et al. “Rape Culture and Social Media: Young Critics and a Feminist Counterpublic.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 16, no. 6, 2016, pp. 935–951.

A popular but clickbait-y news site:

Tamplin, Harley. “Instagram Users Are Massive Narcissists, Study Shows.” Elite Daily, Bustle Digital Group3 April 2017.

If you want to showcase a diversity of perspectives, you will want to weave together a diversity of sources.

As you discover useful sources, try to expand your usual research process by experimenting with the techniques and resources included in this chapter.

The first and most important determining factor of your research is where you choose to begin. Although there are a great number of credible and useful texts available across different search platforms, I generally encourage my students begin with two resources:

Their college or university’s library and its website, and

Google Scholar.

These resources are not bulletproof, and you can’t always find what you need through them. However, their general search functionality and the databases from which they draw tend to be more reliable, specific, and professional. It is quite likely that your argument will be better received if it relies on the kind of sources you discover with these tools.

Your Library
Photograph: two people looking at a computer together in concentration.
Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

Although the following information primarily focuses on making good use of your library’s online tools, one of the most valuable and under-utilized resources at your disposal are the librarians themselves. Do you know if your school has research librarians on staff? How about your local library? Research librarians (or, reference librarians) are not only well-versed in the research process, but they are also passionate about supporting students in their inquiry.

Screenshot of a library webpage that says "Ask A Librarian" with options to get help via chat, email, text, in person, or "DIY".

It’s also possible that your library offers research support that you can access remotely: many colleges and universities provide librarian support via phone, text, instant message/chat, or e-mail. Some libraries even make video tutorials and do-it-yourself research tips and tricks.

The first step in learning how your library will support you is to investigate their website. Although I can’t provide specific instruction for the use of your library website—they are all slightly different—I encourage you to spend ten minutes familiarizing yourself with the site, considering the following questions especially:

  • Does the site have an FAQ, student support, Librarian Chat, or DIY link in case you have questions?
  • Does the site have an integrated search bar (i.e., a search engine that allows you to search some or all databases and the library catalogue simultaneously)?
  • How do you access the “advanced search” function of the library’s search bar?
  • Does your account have an eShelf or reading list to save sources you find?
  • Is your library a member of a resource sharing network, like ILLiad or SUMMIT? How do you request a source through this network?
  • Does your library subscribe to multimedia or digital resource services, like video streaming or eBook libraries?
  • Does the site offer any citation management support software, like Mendeley or Zotero? (You can find links to these tools in the Additional Recommended Resources appendix.)

Depending on where you’re learning, your school will provide different access to scholarly articles, books, and other media.

Most schools pay subscriptions to databases filled will academic works in addition to owning a body of physical texts (books, DVDs, magazines, etc.). Some schools are members of exchange services for physical texts as well, in which case a network of libraries can provide resources to students at your school.

It is worth noting that most library websites use an older form of search technology. You have likely realized that day-to-day search engines like Google will predict what you’re searching, correct your spelling, and automatically return results that your search terms might not have exactly aligned with. (For example, I could google How many basketball players on Jazz roster and I would still likely get the results I needed.) Most library search engines don’t do this, so you need to be very deliberate with your search terms. Here are some tips:

  • Consider synonyms and jargon that might be more likely to yield results. As you research, you will become more fluent in the language of your subject. Keep track of vocabulary that other scholars use, and revise your search terms based on this context-specific language.
  • Use the Boolean operators ? and * for expanded results:
    • wom?n yields results for woman, women, womyn, etc.
    • medic* yields results for medic, medicine, medication, medicinal, medical, etc.
  • Use the advanced search feature to combine search terms, exclude certain results, limit the search terms’ applicability, etc.
When using library search engines, be very deliberate with your search terms.
Screenshot from library serach pages
Advanced search fields like these allow you to put more specific constraints on your search. Your library website’s search feature will likely allow you to limit the results you get by year of publication, medium, genre or topic, and other constraints.

A webpage screenshot of an advanced search field from a library website.

A webpage screenshot of an advanced search field from a library website.


Screenshot of library catalog
You may also be able to refine your first set of results using filters (typically on the left side of the page and/or above the results). For instance, if your teacher requires you to use a peer-reviewed source, your library database may allow you to limit your results to only peer-reviewed journals, as illustrated here.


JSTOR, Academic Search Premier, and EBSCO are three databases that most schools subscribe to; they are quite broad and well established. Especially if your school’s library doesn’t have an integrated search function, you may need to access these databases directly. Look for a link on your library website to “Databases” (or something to that effect) to find specific networks of sources.
Google Scholar

Screenshot from google scholar search

Because Google Scholar is a bit more intuitive than most library search engines, and because it draws from large databases, you might find it easier to use. Many of the results you turn up using Google Scholar are available online as free access PDFs.

That said, Scholar will often bring up citations for books, articles, and other texts that you don’t have access to. Before you use Google Scholar, make sure you’re logged in to your school account in the same browser; the search engine should provide links to “Find it @ [your school]” if your institution subscribes to the appropriate database.

If you find a citation, article preview, or other text via Google Scholar but can’t access it easily, you return to your library website and search for it directly. It’s possible that you have access to the text via a loaning program like ILLiad.

Google Scholar will also let you limit your results by various constraints, making it easier to wade through many, many results.


A quick note on Wikipedia: many instructors forbid the use of Wikipedia as a cited source in an essay. Wikipedia is a great place for quick facts and background knowledge, but because its content is user-created and -curated, it is vulnerable to the spread of misinformation characteristic of the broader Internet. Wikipedia has been vetting their articles more thoroughly in recent years, but only about 1 in 200 are internally rated as “good articles.” There are two hacks that you should know in order to use Wikipedia more critically:

Screenshot of a Wikipedia article.

  • It is wise to avoid a page has a warning banner at the top, such as:
    • This article needs to be updated,
    • The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject,
    • The neutrality of this article is disputed,
    • This article needs additional citations for verification,
    • This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.
  • If your Wikipedia information is crucial and seems reliable, use the linked citation to draw from instead of the Wikipedia page, as pictured below. This will help you ensure that the linked content is legitimate (dead links and suspect citations are no good) and avoid citing Wikipedia as a main source.
Other Resources

As we will continue to discuss, the most useful sources for your research project are not always proper academic, peer-reviewed articles. For instance, if I were writing a paper on the experience of working for United Airlines, a compelling blog post by a flight attendant that speaks to the actual working conditions they experienced might be more appropriate than a data-driven scholarly investigation of the United Airlines consumer trends. You might find that a TED Talk, a published interview, an advertisement, or some other non-academic source would be useful for your writing. Therefore, it’s important that you apply the skills and techniques from “Evaluating Sources” to all the texts you encounter, being especially careful with texts that some people might see as unreliable.

Additional Techniques for Discovering Sources

All it takes is one or two really good sources to get you started. You should keep your perspective wide to catch as much as you can—but if you’ve found a handful of good sources, there are four tools that can help you find even more:

Screenshot of an article's References section with many active links to other articles included in the citation.

The author of that perfect article probably got some of their information from somewhere else, just like you. Citation mining is the

process of using a text’s citations, bibliography, or notes to track down other similar or related sources. Plug the author’s citations into your school’s library search engine or Google Scholar to see if you have access.

Web of Science is like reverse citation mining: instead of using a text’s bibliography to find more sources, you find other sources that cite your text in their bibliographies. Web of Science is a digital archive that shows you connections between different authors and their writing—and not only for science! If you find a good source that is documented in this database, you can see other texts that cite that source.

Bootstrapping is a technique that works best on search engines with detail features, like your library search engine. As you can see in the screenshot below, these search engines tag each text with certain subject keywords. By clicking on those keywords, you can link to other texts tagged with the same keywords, typically according to Library of Congress standards.


Screenshot of a record for an article entitled "Sports market capacity, frequency of movements, and age in the NBA players salary determination" with the "Subjects" section of the record highlighted. The subjects are Library of Congress subject headings that read "Pay For Performance -- Research" and "Basketball Players -- Compensation and Benefits."

  • WorldCat is a tremendous tool that catalogs the most citations of any database I’ve ever seen. Even though you can’t always access texts through WorldCat, you can figure out which nearby libraries might be able to help you out.

The first and most important piece of advice I can offer you as you begin to dig into these sources: stay organized. By taking notes and keeping record of where each idea is coming from, you save yourself a lot of time—and avoid the risk of unintentional plagiarism. If you could stand to brush up on your notetaking skills, take a look at Appendix A: Engaged Reading Strategies.

Research Methods: Evaluating Sources

If there’s no such thing as an inherently “good” or “bad” source, how do we determine if a source is right for our purposes? As you sift through sources, you should consider credibility and use-value to determine whether a source is right for you. Credibility refers to the reliability and accuracy of the author, their writing, and the publisher. Use-value is a broad term that includes whether you should use a text in your research paper, as well as how you will use that text. The CRAAP Test will help you explore both credibility and use-value.


How recently was the text created? Does that impact the accuracy or value of its contents, either positively or negatively?

Generally, a text that is current is more credible and useful: data will be more accurate, the content will reflect more up-to-date ideas, and so on. However, there are some exceptions.

  • A text that is not current might be useful because it reflects attitudes of its publication era. For instance, if I were writing a paper on sexism in the office environment, it might be convincing to include a memo on dress codes from 1973.
  • A text that is current might not be useful because the phenomena it discusses might not have existed long enough to have substantial evidence or study. For instance, if I were writing a paper on nanorobotics, it would be difficult to evaluate long-term impacts of this emergent technology because it simply hasn’t been around long enough.


Is the text closely related to your topic? Does it illuminate your topic, or is it only tangentially connected?

A text that is relevant is generally more useful, as you probably already realize. Exceptions to this might include:

  • A text that is too relevant might not be useful because it might create overlap or redundancy in your argument. You should use texts like this to pivot, complicate, or challenge your topic so you are not just repeating someone else’s ideas.
  • A text that is only slightly relevant might be useful in providing background knowledge, drawing out an analogy, or gesturing to important questions or ideas you don’t have room to discuss in the scope of your paper.


Is there any reason to doubt the validity of the text? Is it possible that the information and ideas included are simply untrue?

You might start out by relying on your instincts to answer these questions, but your evaluation of accuracy should also informed more objectively by the other elements of the CRAAP Test (e.g., if a text is outdated, it might no longer be accurate). Of course, the importance of this element depends on your use of the source; for instance, if I were writing a paper on conservative responses to Planned Parenthood, I might find it useful to discuss the inaccurate videos released by a pro-choice group several years ago.


Who is the author? Who is the publisher? Do either or both demonstrate ethos through their experience, credentials, or public perception?

This element also depends on your use of the source; for instance, if I were writing a paper on cyberbullying, I might find it useful to bring in posts from anonymous teenagers. Often, though, academic presses (e.g., Oxford University) and government publishers (e.g., are assumed to have an increased degree of authority when compared with popular presses (e.g., The Atlantic) or self-published texts (e.g., blogs). It may be difficult to ascertain an author and a publisher’s authority without further research, but here are some red flags if you’re evaluating a source with questionable authority:

  • There is no author listed.
  • The website hosting the webpage or article is incomplete, outdated, or broken.
  • The author seems to use little factual evidence.
  • The author is known for extreme or one-dimensional views.
  • The source has a sponsoring organization with an agenda that might undermine the validity of the information.


What is the author trying to achieve with their text? What are their motivations or reasons for publication and writing? Does that purpose influence the credibility of the text?

As we’ve discussed, every piece of rhetoric has a purpose. It’s important that you identify and evaluate the implied and/or declared purposes of a text before you put too much faith in it.

Even though you’re making efforts to keep an open mind to different positions, it is likely that you’ve already formed some opinions about your topic. As you review each source, try to read both with and against the grain; in other words, try to position yourself at least once as a doubter and at least once as believer. Regardless of what the source actually has to say, you should (a) try to take the argument on its own terms and try to appreciate or understand it; and (b) be critical of it, looking for its blind spots and problems. This is especially important when we encounter texts we really like or really dislike—we need to challenge our early perceptions to interrupt projection.

As you proceed through each step of the CRAAP Test, try to come up with answers as both a doubter and a believer. For example, try to come up with a reason why a source’s Authority makes it credible and useful; then, come up with a reason why the same source’s Authority makes it unreliable and not useful.

This may seem like a cumbersome process, but with enough practice, the CRAAP Test will become second nature. You will become more efficient as you evaluate more texts, and eventually you will be able to identify a source’s use-value and credibility without running the entire test. Furthermore, as you may already realize, you can eventually just start eliminating sources if they fail to demonstrate credibility and/or use-value through at least one step of the CRAAP Test.

Interpreting Sources and Processing Information

Once you’ve found a source that seems both useful and credible, you should spend some time reading, rereading, and interpreting that text. The more time you allow yourself to think through a text, the more likely your use of it will be rhetorically effective.

Although it is time-consuming, I encourage you to process each text by:

  • Reading once through, trying to develop a global understanding of the content
  • Re-reading at least once, annotating the text along the way, and then copying quotes, ideas, and your reactions into your notes
  • Summarizing the text in your notes in casual prose
  • Reflecting on how the text relates to your topic and your stance on the topic
  • Reflecting on how the text relates to others you’ve read

You need not perform such thorough reading with texts you don’t intend to use—e.g., if you determine that the source is too old to inform your work. However, the above list will ensure that you develop a nuanced and accurate understanding of the author’s perspective. Think of this process as part of the ongoing conversation: before you start expressing your ideas, you should listen carefully, ask follow-up questions to clarify what you’ve heard, and situate the ideas within the context of the bigger discussion.

The Annotated Bibliography

So far, you have discovered, evaluated, and begun to process your sources intellectually. Your next steps will vary based on your rhetorical situation, but it is possible that your teacher will ask you to write an annotated bibliography before or during the drafting process for your actual essay.

An annotated bibliography is a formalized exercise in the type of interpretation described throughout this section. An annotated bibliography is like a long works cited page, but underneath each citation is a paragraph that explains and analyzes the text. Examples are included in this section to give you an idea of what an annotated bibliography might look like.

Annotated bibliographies have a few purposes:

  1. To organize your research so you don’t lose track of where different ideas come from,
  2. To help you process texts in a consistent and thorough way, and
  3. To demonstrate your ongoing research process for your teacher.

This kind of writing can also be an end in itself: many scholars publish annotated bibliographies as research or teaching tools. They can be helpful for authors like you, looking for an introduction to a conversation or a variety of perspectives on a topic. As an example, consider the model annotated bibliography “What Does It Mean to Be Educated?” later in this chapter.

Although every teacher will have slightly different ideas about what goes into an annotated bibliography, I encourage my students to include the following:

  • A brief summary of the main ideas discussed in the text and/or an evaluation of the rhetoric or argumentation deployed by the author.
    • What are the key insights, arguments, or pieces of information included in the source? What is the author’s purpose? How does their language pursue that purpose?


  • A consideration of the text’s place in the ongoing conversation about your topic.
    • To what other ideas, issues, and texts is your text responding? How would you describe the intended audience? Does the author seem credible, referencing other “speakers” in the conversation?


  • A description of the text’s use-value.
    • Is the text useful? How do you predict you will use the text in your work?

You might note that your work in the CRAAP Test will provide useful answers for some of these questions.

Sometimes, I’ll also include a couple of compelling quotes in my annotations. Typically, I request that students write about 100 words for each annotation, but you should ask your teacher if they have more specific guidelines.

Your annotated bibliography will be an excellent tool as you turn to the next steps of research writing: synthesizing a variety of voices with your ideas and experiences. It is a quick reference guide, redirecting you to the texts you found most valuable; more abstractly, it will support you in perceiving a complex and nuanced conversation on your topic.

Research Methods: Drawing from Sources and Synthesizing
Finding Your Position, Posture, and Perspective

As you begin drafting your research essay, remember the conversation analogy: by using other voices, you are entering into a discussion that is much bigger than just you, even bigger than the authors you cite. However, what you have to say is important, so you are bringing together your ideas with others’ ideas from a unique interpretive standpoint. Although it may take you a while to find it, you should be searching for your unique position in a complex network of discourse.

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”- Albert Szent-Györgyi

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider this:

  • How would I introduce this topic to someone who is completely unfamiliar?
  • What are the major viewpoints on this topic? Remember that very few issues have only two sides.
  • With which viewpoints do I align? With which viewpoints do I disagree? Consider agreement (“Yes”), disagreement (“No”), and qualification (“Yes, but…”).
  • What did I know about this issue before I began researching? What have I learned so far?
  • What is my rhetorical purpose with this project? If your purpose is to argue a position, be sure that you feel comfortable with the terms and ideas discussed in the previous section on argumentation.
Articulating Your Claim

Once you’ve started to catch the rhythm of the ongoing conversation, it’s time to find a way to put your perspective into words. Bear in mind that your thesis statement should evolve as you research, draft, and revise: you might tweak the wording, adjust your scope, change your position or even your entire topic in the course of your work.

Your thesis statement can and should evolve as you continue writing your paper. Often, I prefer to think of a thesis instead as a (hypo)thesis—an informed estimation of the answer(s) to your research question.

Because your thesis is a “working thesis” or “(hypo)thesis,” you should use the following strategies to draft your thesis but be ready to make adjustments along the way.

In Chapter 6, we introduced the T3, Occasion/Position, and Embedded Thesis models. As a refresher,

  • A T3 statement articulates the author’s stance, then offers three supporting reasons, subtopics, or components of the argument.

Throughout history, women have been legally oppressed by different social institutions, including exclusion from the workplace, restriction of voting rights, and regulations of healthcare.

  • An Occasion/Position statement starts with a statement of relevance related to the rhetorical occasion, then articulates the author’s stance.

Recent Congressional activity in the U.S. has led me to wonder how women’s freedoms have been restricted throughout history. Women have been legally oppressed by many different institutions since the inception of the United States.

  • An Embedded Thesis presents the research question, perhaps with a gesture to the answer(s). This strategy requires that you clearly articulate your stance somewhere later in your paper, at a point when your evidence has led you to the answer to your guiding question.

Many people would agree that women have experienced oppression throughout the history of the United States, but how has this oppression been exercised legally through different social institutions?

Of course, these are only three strategies to write a thesis. You may use one of them, combine several of them, or use a different strategy entirely.

To build on these three strategies, we should look at three kinds of claims: three sorts of postures that you might take to articulate your stance as a thesis.

  • Claim of Phenomenon: This statement indicates that your essay will explore a measurable but arguable happening.

Obesity rates correlate with higher rates of poverty.

Claims of phenomenon are often more straightforward, but should still be arguable and worth discussion.

  • Claim of Evaluation: This statement indicates that your essay will determine something that is better, best, worse, or worst in regard to your topic.

The healthiest nations are those with economic safety nets.

Claims of evaluation require you to make an informed judgment based on evidence. In this example, the student would have to establish a metric for “healthy” in addition to exploring the way that economic safety nets promote healthful behaviors—What makes someone “healthy” and why are safety nets a pathway to health?

  • Claim of Policy: This statement indicates that your essay will propose a plan of action to best address an issue.

State and federal governments should create educational programs, develop infrastructure, and establish food-stamp benefits to promote healthy eating for people experiencing poverty.

Claims of policy do the most heavy lifting: they articulate a stance that requires action, from the reader or from another stakeholder. A claim of policy often uses the word “should.”

You may notice that these claims can be effectively combined at your discretion. Sometimes, when different ideas overlap, it’s absolutely necessary to combine them to create a cohesive stance. For instance, in the example above, the claim of policy would require the author to establish a claim of phenomenon, too: before advocating for action, the author must demonstrate what that action responds to. For more practice, check out the activity in the following section titled “Articulating Your Claim — Practicing Thesis Development.”

Situating Yourself Using Your Research

While you’re drafting, be diligent and deliberate with your use of other people’s words, ideas, and perspectives. Foreground your thesis (even if it’s still in progress) and use paraphrases, direct quotes, and summary in the background to explain, support, complicate, or contrast your perspective.

Depending on the work you’ve done to this point, you may have a reasonable body of quotes, summaries, and paraphrases that you can draw from. Whether or not you’ve been collecting evidence throughout your research process, be sure to return to the original sources to ensure the accuracy and efficacy of your quotes, summaries, and paraphrases.

In Section 2, we encountered paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing for a text wrestling essay, but let’s take a minute to revisit them in this new rhetorical situation. How do you think using support in a research paper is different from using support in an analysis?

A direct quote uses quotation marks (“ ”) to indicate where you’re borrowing an author’s words verbatim in your own writing. Use a direct quote if someone else wrote or said something in a distinctive or particular way and you want to capture their words exactly.

Direct quotes are good for establishing ethos and providing evidence. In a research essay, you will be expected to use some direct quotes; however, too many direct quotes can overwhelm your thesis and actually undermine your sense of ethos. Your research paper should strike a balance between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing—and articulating your own perspective!

Summarizing refers to the action of boiling down an author’s ideas into a shorter version in your own words. Summary demonstrates your understanding of a text, but it also can be useful in giving background information or making a complex idea more accessible.

When we paraphrase, we are processing information or ideas from another person’s text and putting it in our own words. The main difference between paraphrase and summary is scope: if summarizing means rewording and condensing, then

paraphrasing means rewording without drastically altering length. However, paraphrasing is also generally more faithful to the spirit of the original; whereas a summary requires you to process and invites your own perspective, a paraphrase ought to mirror back the original idea using your own language.

Whether you are quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing, you must always include an appropriate citation.

Paraphrasing is helpful for establishing background knowledge or general consensus, simplifying a complicated idea, or reminding your reader of a certain part of another text. It is also valuable when relaying statistics or historical information, both of which are usually more fluidly woven into your writing when spoken with your own voice.

Each of these three tactics should support your argument: you should integrate quotes, paraphrases, and summary in with your own writing. Below, you can see three examples of these tools. Consider how the direct quote, the paraphrase, and the summary each could be used to achieve different purposes.

Original Passage

It has been suggested (again rather anecdotally) that giraffes do communicate using infrasonic vocalizations (the signals are verbally described to be similar—in structure and function—to the low-frequency, infrasonic “rumbles” of elephants). It was further speculated that the extensive frontal sinus of giraffes acts as a resonance chamber for infrasound production. Moreover, particular neck movements (e.g. the neck stretch) are suggested to be associated with the production of infrasonic vocalizations.1




Some zoological experts have pointed out that the evidence for giraffe hums has been “rather anecdotally” reported (Baotic et al. 3). However, some scientists have “speculated that the extensive frontal sinus of giraffes acts as a resonance chamber for infrasound production” (Ibid. 3).

Giraffes emit a low-pitch noise; some scientists believe that this hum can be used for communication with other members of the social group, but others are skeptical because of the dearth of research on giraffe noises. According to Baotic et al., the anatomy of the animal suggests that they may be making deliberate and specific noises (3).

Baotic et al. conducted a study on giraffe hums in response to speculation that these noises are used deliberately for communication.

These examples also demonstrate additional citation conventions worth noting:

  • A parenthetical in-text citation is used for all three forms. (In MLA format, this citation includes the author’s last name and page number.) The purpose of an in-text citation is to identify key information that guides your reader to your Works Cited page (or Bibliography or References, depending on your format).
  • If you use the author’s name in the sentence, you do not need to include their name in the parenthetical citation.
  • If your material doesn’t come from a specific page or page range, but rather from the entire text, you do not need to include a page number in the parenthetical citation.
  • If there are many authors (generally more than three), you can use “et al.” to mean “and others.”
  • If you cite the same source consecutively in the same paragraph (without citing any other sources in between), you can use “Ibid.” to mean “same as the last one.”

There are infinite ways to bring evidence into your discussion,2 but for now, let’s revisit a formula that many students find productive as they find their footing in research writing: Front-load + Quote/Paraphrase/Summarize + Cite + Explain/elaborate/analyze.


Front-load +

(1-2 sentences)

Quote, paraphrase, or summarize +

(cite) +

Explain, elaborate, analyze

(2-3 sentences)

Set your reader up for the quote using a signpost (also known as a “signal phrase”). Don’t drop quotes in abruptly: by front-loading, you can guide your reader’s interpretation.

Use whichever technique is relevant to your rhetorical purpose at that exact point.

Use an in-text citation appropriate to your discipline. It doesn’t matter if you quote, paraphrase, or summarize—all three require a citation

Perhaps most importantly, you need to make the value of this evidence clear to the reader. What does it mean? How does it further your thesis?

This might feel formulaic and forced at first, but following these steps will ensure that you give each piece of evidence thorough attention.

What might this look like in practice?

(1) Humans and dolphins are not the only mammals with complex systems of communication. As a matter of fact, (2) some scientists have “speculated that the extensive frontal sinus of giraffes acts as a resonance chamber for infrasound production” ((3) Baotic et al. 3). (4) Even though no definitive answer has been found, it’s possible that the structure of a giraffe’s head allows it to create sounds that humans may not be able to hear. This hypothesis supports the notion that different species of animals develop a sort of “language” that corresponds to their anatomy.

1. Front-load

Humans and dolphins are not the only mammals with complex systems of communication. As a matter of fact,

2. Quote

some scientists have “speculated that the extensive frontal sinus of giraffes acts as a resonance chamber for infrasound production”

3. Cite

(Baotic et al. 3).

4. Explain/elaborate/analyze

Even though no definitive answer has been found, it’s possible that the structure of a giraffe’s head allows it to create sounds that humans may not be able to hear. This hypothesis supports the notion that different species of animals develop a sort of “language” that corresponds to their anatomy.

Extended Quotes

A quick note on block quotes: Sometimes, you may find it necessary to use a long direct quote from a source. For instance, if there is a passage that you plan to analyze in-depth or throughout the course of the entire paper, you may need to reproduce the whole thing. You may have seen other authors use block quotes in the course of your research. In the middle of a sentence or paragraph, the text will break into a long direct quote that is indented and separated from the rest of the paragraph.

There are occasions when it is appropriate for you to use block quotes, too, but they are rare. Even though long quotes can be useful, quotes long enough to block are often too long. Using too much of one source all at once can overwhelm your own voice and analysis, distract the reader, undermine your ethos, and prevent you from digging into a quote. It’s typically a better choice to abridge (omit words from the beginning or end of the quote, or from the middle using an ellipsis […]), break up (split one long quote into two or three shorter quotes that you can attend to more specifically), or paraphrase a long quote, especially because that gives you more space for the last step of the formula above.

If, in the rare event that you must use a long direct quote, one which runs more than four lines on a properly formatted page, follow the guidelines from the appropriate style guide. In MLA format, block quotes are: (a) indented one inch from the margin, (b) double-spaced, (c) not in quotation marks, and (d) use original end-punctuation and an in-text citation after the last sentence. The paragraph will continue after the block quote without any indentation.

Readerly Signposts
“Signpost Blank” by Karen Arnold is in the Public Domain, CC0

Signposts are phrases and sentences that guide a reader’s interpretation of the evidence you are about to introduce. Readerly signposts are also known as “signal phrases” because they give the reader a warning of your next move. In addition to foreshadowing a paraphrase, quote, or summary, though, your signposts can be active agents in your argumentation.

Before using a paraphrase, quote, or summary, you can prime your reader to understand that evidence in a certain way. For example, let’s take the imaginary quote, “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”


[X] insists, “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”

Some people believe, naively, that “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”

Common knowledge suggests that “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”

[X] posits that “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”

Although some people believe otherwise, the truth is that “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”

Although some people believe that “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick,” it is more likely that…

Whenever conspiracy theories come up, people like to joke that “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”

The government has conducted many covert operations in the last century: “The moon landing was faked in a sound studio by Stanley Kubrick.”

What does each signpost do to us, as readers, encountering the same quote?

A very useful resource for applying these signposts is the text They Say, I Say, which you may be able to find online or at your school’s library.

Addressing Counterarguments

As you recall from the chapter on argumentation, a good argument acknowledges other voices. Whether you’re trying to refute those counterarguments or find common ground before moving forward, it is important to include a diversity of perspectives in your argument. One highly effective way to do so is by using the readerly signpost that I call the naysayer’s voice.

Simply put, the naysayer is a voice that disagrees with you that you imagine into your essay. Consider, for example, this excerpt from Paul Greenough:

It appears that tigers cannot be accurately counted and that uncertainty is as endemic to their study as to the study of many other wildlife populations. In the meantime, pugmark counting continues. … In the end, the debate over numbers cannot be resolved; while rising trends were discernible through the 1970s and 1980s, firm baselines and accurate numbers were beyond anyone’s grasp.

CRITIC: Are you emphasizing this numbers and counting business for some reason?

AUTHOR: Yes. I find it instructive to compare the degree of surveillance demanded by the smallpox eradication campaign…with the sketchy methods sufficient to keep Project Tiger afloat. …

CRITIC: Maybe numbers aren’t as central to these large state enterprises as you assume?

AUTHOR: No, no—they live and die by them.3

Notice the advantages of this technique:

  • Greenough demonstrates, first and foremost, that the topic he’s considering is part of a broad conversation involving many voices and perspectives.
  • He is able to effectively transition between ideas.
  • He controls the counterargument by asking the questions he wants to be asked.

Give it a shot in your own writing by adding a reader’s or a naysayer’s voice every few paragraphs: imagine what a skeptical, curious, or enthusiastic audience might say in response to each of your main points.

Revisiting Your Research Question, Developing an Introduction, and Crafting a Conclusion

Once you’ve started synthesizing ideas in your drafting process, you should frequently revisit your research question to refine the phrasing and be certain it still encompasses your concerns. During the research and drafting process, it is likely that your focus will change, which should motivate you to adjust, pivot, complicate, or drastically change your path of inquiry and working thesis. Additionally, you will acquire new language and ideas as you get the feel for the conversation. Use the new jargon and concepts to hone your research question and thesis.


Introductions are the most difficult part of any paper for me. Not only does it feel awkward, but I often don’t know quite what I want to say until I’ve written the essay. Fortunately, we don’t have to force out an intro before we’re ready. Give yourself permission to draft out of order! For instance, I typically write the entire body of the essay before returning to the top to draft an introduction.

If you draft out of order, though, you should dedicate time to crafting an effective introduction before turning in the final draft. The introduction to a paper is your chance to make a first impression on your reader. You might be establishing a conceptual framework, setting a tone, or showing the reader a way in. Furthermore, due to the primacy effect, readers are more likely to remember your intro than most of the rest of your essay.

In this brief section, I want to note two pet peeves for introductions, and then offer a handful of other possibilities.


Avoid these two techniques:

  • Starting with fluffy, irrelevant, or extremely general statements. Sometimes, developing authors make really broad observations or facts that just take up space before getting to the good stuff. You can see this demonstrated in the “Original” version of the student example below.
  • Offering a definition for something that your audience already knows. At some point, this method became a stock-technique for starting speeches, essays, and other texts: “Merriam Webster defines x as….” You’ve probably heard it before. As pervasive as this technique is, though, it is generally ineffective for two reasons: (1) it is hackneyed—overused to the point of meaninglessness, and (2) it rarely offers new insight—the audience probably already has sufficient knowledge of the definition. There is an exception to this point, though! You can overcome issue #2 by analyzing the definition you give: does the definition reveal something about our common-sense that you want to critique? Does it contradict or overlook connotations? Do you think the definition is too narrow, too broad, or too ambiguous? In other words, you can use the definition technique as long as you’re doing something with the definition.


These are a few approaches to introductions that my students often find successful. Perhaps the best advice I can offer, though, is to try out a lot of different introductions and see which ones feel better to you, the author. Which do you like most, and which do you think will be most impactful to your audience?

  • Telling a story. Not only will this kick your essay off with pathos and specificity, but it can also lend variety to the voice you use throughout the rest of your essay. A story can also provide a touchstone, or a reference point, for you and your reader; you can relate your argument back to the story and its characters as you develop more complex ideas.
  • Describing a scene. Similarly, thick description can provide your reader a mental image to grasp before you present your research question and thesis. This is the technique used in the model below.
  • Asking a question. This is a common technique teachers share with their students when describing a “hook.” You want your reader to feel curious, excited, and involved as they start reading your essay, and posing a thought-provoking question can bring them into the conversation too.
  • Using a striking quote or fact. Another “hook” technique: starting off your essay with a meaningful quote, shocking statistic, or curious fact can catch a reader’s eye and stimulate their curiosity.
  • Considering a case study. Similar to the storytelling approach, this technique asks you to identify a single person or occurrence relevant to your topic that represents a bigger trend you will discuss.
  • Relating a real or imaginary dialogue. To help your readers acclimate to the conversation themselves, show them how people might talk about your topic. This also provides a good opportunity to demonstrate the stakes of the issue—why does it matter, and to whom?
  • Establishing a juxtaposition. You might compare two seemingly unlike ideas, things, or questions, or contrast two seemingly similar ideas, things, or questions in order to clarify your path of inquiry and to challenge your readers’ assumptions about those ideas, things or questions.

Here’s an example of a student’s placeholder introduction in their draft, followed by a revised version using the scene description approach from above. He tried out a few

of the strategies above before settling on the scene description for his revision. Notice how the earlier version “buries the lede,” as one might say—hides the most interesting, relevant, or exciting detail. By contrast, the revised version is active, visual, and engaging.


Every year over 15 million people visit Paris, more than any other city in the world. Paris has a rich, artistic history, stunning architecture and decadent mouth-watering food. Almost every visitor here heads straight for the Eiffel Tower (“Top destinations” 2014). Absorbing the breathtaking view, towering over the metropolis below, you might notice something missing from the Parisian landscape: tall buildings. It’s easy to overlook but a peculiar thing. Around the world, most mega cities have hundreds of towering skyscrapers, but here in Paris, the vast majority of buildings are less than six stories tall (Davies 2010). The reason lies deep below the surface in the Paris underground where an immense cave system filled with dead bodies is attracting a different kind of visitor.4


On a frigid day in December of 1774, residents of a small walled district in Paris watched in horror as the ground before them began to crack and shift. Within seconds a massive section of road collapsed, leaving behind a gaping chasm where Rue d’Enfer (Hell Street) once stood. Residents peeked over the edge into a black abyss that has since become the stuff of wonder and nightmares. What had been unearthed that cold day in December, was an ancient tunnel system now known as The Empire of the Dead.5

You may notice that neither of these model introductions articulates a thesis statement or a research question. How would you advise this student to transition into the central, unifying insight of their paper?


A close second to introductions, in terms of difficulty, are conclusions. Due to the recency effect, readers are more likely to remember your conclusion than most of the rest of your essay.

Most of us have been trained to believe that a conclusion repeats your thesis and main arguments, perhaps in different words, to remind the reader what they just read—or to fluff up page counts.

This is a misguided notion. True, conclusions shouldn’t introduce completely new ideas, but they shouldn’t only rehearse everything you’ve already said. Rather, they should tie up loose ends and leave the reader with an extending thought—something more to meditate on once they’ve left the world you’ve created with your essay. Your conclusion is your last chance to speak to your reader on your terms based on the knowledge you have now shared; repeating what you have already established is a wasted opportunity.

Instead, here are few other possibilities. (You can include all, some, or none of them.)

  • Look back to your introduction. If you told a story, shared a case study, or described a scene, you might reconsider that story, case study, or scene with the knowledge developed in the course of your paper. Consider the “ouroboros”—the snake eating its own head. Your conclusion can provide a satisfying circularity using this tactic.
  • Consider what surprised you in your research process. What do those surprises teach us about commonsense assumptions about your topic? How might the evolution of your thought on a topic model the evolution you expect from your readers?
  • End with a quote. A final thought, meaningfully articulated, can make your readers feel settled and satisfied.
  • Propose a call-to-action. Especially if your path of inquiry is a matter of policy or behavior, tell the reader what they should do now that they have seen the issue from your eyes.
  • Gesture to questions and issues you can’t address in the scope of your paper. You might have had to omit some of your digressive concerns in the interest of focus. What remains to be answered, studied, or considered?

Here’s an example of a placeholder conclusion in a draft, followed by a revised version using the “gesture to questions” and “end with a quote” approach from above. You may not be able to tell without reading the rest of the essay, but the original version simply restates the main points of each paragraph. In addition to being repetitive, the original is also not very exciting, so it does not inspire the reader to keep thinking about the topic. On the other hand, the revised version tries to give the reader more to chew on: it builds from what the paper establishes to provoke more curiosity and lets the subject continue to grow.


In conclusion, it is likely that the space tourism industry will flourish as long as venture capitalists and the private sector bankroll its development. As noted in this paper, new technology will support space tourism and humans are always curious to see new places. Space tourism is currently very expensive but it will become more affordable. The FAA and other government agencies will make sure it is regulated and safe.


It has become clear that the financial, regulatory, and technological elements of space tourism are all within reach for humanity—whether in reality or in our imaginations. However, the growth of a space tourism industry will raise more and more questions: Will the ability to leave our blue marble exacerbate income inequity? If space tourism is restricted to those who can afford exorbitant costs, then it is quite possible that the less privileged will remain earthbound. Moreover, should our history of earthly colonization worry us for the fate of our universe? These questions and others point to an urgent constraint: space tourism might be logistically feasible, but can we ensure that what we imagine will be ethical? According to Carl Sagan, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere” (2).6


Research Scavenger Hunt

To practice using a variety of research tools and finding a diversity of sources, try to discover resources according to the following constraints. Once you find a source, you should make sure you can access it later—save it to your computer; copy a live, stable URL; request it from the library; and/or save it to your Library eShelf, if you have one. For this assignment, you can copy a URL or doi for digital resources or library call number for physical ones.

If you’re already working on a project, use your topic for this activity. If you don’t have a topic in mind, choose one by picking up a book, paper, or other written text near you: close your eyes and point to a random part of the page. Use the noun closest to your finger that you find vaguely interesting as a topic or search term for this exercise.

Research Tool

URL, doi, or Call Number

A peer-reviewed journal article through a database

A source you bootstrapped using subject tags

A newspaper article

A source through Google

A source originally cited in a Wikipedia article

A physical text in your school’s library (book, DVD, microfilm, etc.)

A source through Google Scholar

A source you citation-mined from another source’s bibliography

An eBook

A text written in plain language

A text written in discipline-specific jargon

A text that is not credible

A text older than twenty years

A text published within the last two years

Identifying Fake News

To think more about credibility, accuracy, and truth, read “Fake news ‘symptomatic of crisis in journalism’” from Al Jazeera. Then, test your skills using this fake news quiz game.

Interacting with Sources Graphic Organizer

The following graphic organizer asks you to apply the skills from the previous section using a text of your choice. Complete this graphic organizer to practice critical encounters with your research and prepare to integrate information into your essay.

a. Discovering a Source: Find a source using one of the methods described in this chapter; record which method you used below (e.g., “Google Scholar” or “bootstrapped a library article”).

b. Evaluating Credibility and Use-Value: Put your source through the CRAAP Test to determine whether it demonstrates credibility and use-value. Write responses for each element that practice reading with the grain and reading against the grain.

With Grain (Believer)

“This source is great!”

Against Grain (Doubter)

“This source is absolute garbage!”






c. Citation: Using citation and style resources like Purdue OWL for guidance, write an accurate citation for this source for a Works Cited page.

d. Paraphrase/Quote/Summarize: Choose a “golden line” from the source.

First, copy the quote, using quotations marks, and include a parenthetical in-text citation.

Second, paraphrase the quote and include a parenthetical in-text citation.

Third, summarize the main point of the source and include a parenthetical in-text citation; you may include the quote if you see fit.


e. Integrating Information: Using your response from part d, write a sample paragraph that integrates a quote, paraphrase, or summary. Use the formula discussed earlier in this chapter (front-load + P/Q/S + explain/elaborate/analyze)

Articulating Your Claim – Practicing Thesis Development

To practice applying the strategies for developing and revising a thesis statement explored in this chapter, you will write and revise a claim based on constraints provided by your groupmates. This activity works best with at least two other students.

Part One – Write

First, on a post-it note or blank piece of paper, write any article of clothing. Then, choose one type of claim (Claim of Phenomenon, Claim of Evaluation, or Claim of Policy, introduced in “Research Methods: Drawing from Sources and Synthesizing”) and write “Phenomenon,” “Evaluation,” or “Policy” on a different post-it note or blank piece of paper.

Exchange your article of clothing with one student and your type of claim with another. (As long as you end up with one of each that you didn’t come up with yourself, it doesn’t matter how you rotate.) Now, write a thesis statement using your choice of strategy:

T3 (Throughout history, women have been legally oppressed by different social institutions, including exclusion from the workplace, restriction of voting rights, and regulations of healthcare.)

O/P (Recent Congressional activity in the U.S. has led me to wonder how women’s freedoms have been restricted throughout history. Women have been legally oppressed by many different institutions since the inception of the United States.)

Embedded Thesis (Many people would agree that women have experienced oppression throughout the history of the United States, but how has this oppression been exercised legally through different social institutions?)

Your thesis should make a claim about the article of clothing according to the post-its you received. For example

Textboxes formatted as a yellow and blue Post-it notes. The yellow box has the word 'sweater' and the blue box has the word 'evaluation' written on them.

Now that it’s November, it’s time to break out the cold weather clothing. When you want to be both warm and also fashionable, a striped wool sweater is the best choice.

Part Two – Revise

Now, write one of the rhetorical appeals (logos, pathos, or ethos) on a new post-it note. Exchange with another student. Revise your thesis to appeal predominantly to that rhetorical appeal.



Now that it’s November, it’s time to break out the cold weather clothing. When you want to be Textbox formatted as a pink Post-it note with the word 'logos' written on it.both warm and also fashionable, a striped wool sweater is the best choice.


With the colder months looming, we are obliged to bundle up. Because they help you maintain consistent and comfortable body temperature, wool sweaters are the best option.

Finally, revise your thesis once more by adding a concession statement.



With the colder months looming, we are obliged to bundle up. Because they help you maintain consistent and comfortable body temperature, wool sweaters are the best option.


With the colder months looming, we are obliged to bundle up. Even though jackets are better for rain or snow, a sweater is a versatile and functional alternative. Because they help you maintain consistent and comfortable body temperature, wool sweaters are the best option.

Guiding Interpretation (Readerly Signposts)

In the organizer on the next page, create a signpost for each of the quotes in the left column that reflects the posture in the top row.

Complete faith


Cautious disbelief


“Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a nutritious part of a child’s lunch.”

Most parents have wondered if “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a nutritious part of a child’s lunch.”

“The bees are dying rapidly.”

Even though some people argue that “the bees are dying rapidly,” it may be more complicated than that.

“Jennifer Lopez is still relevant.”

We can all agree, “Jennifer Lopez is still relevant.”

“Morality cannot be learned.”

It should be obvious that “morality cannot be learned.”

Model Texts by Student Authors

What Does It Mean to Be Educated?7

Broton, K. and Sara Goldrick-Rab. “The Dark Side of College (Un)Affordability: Food and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, vol. 48, no. 1, 2016, pp. 16-25. Taylor & Francis, doi: 10.1080/00091383.2016.1121081.

This article shines a light on food and housing insecurity in higher education. It makes the argument that not having adequate meals or shelter increase the likelihood of receiving poorer grades and not finishing your degree program. There are a few examples of how some colleges and universities have set up food pantries and offer other types of payment plan or assistance programs. It also references a longitudinal study that follows a group of students from higher education through college and provides supporting data and a compelling case study. This is a useful article for those that would like to bring more programs like these to their campus. This article is a good overview of the problem, but could go a step further and provide starter kits for those interested in enacting a change in their institution.

Davis, Joshua. “A Radical Way of Unleashing a Generation of Geniuses.” Wired, 15 October 2013.

This article profiles a teacher in a small school in an impoverished area of Mexico. He has created a space where students are encouraged to learn by collaborating and testing, not by lecture. The article ties the current system of learning to being rooted in the industrial age, but goes on to note that this is negative because they have not adapted to the needs of companies in the modern age. This article is particularly useful to provide examples of how relinquishing control over a classroom is beneficial. It also has a timeline of alternative teaching theorists and examples of schools that are breaking the mold of traditional education. My only critique of the article is that, although it presents numerous examples of a changing education system, it is very negative regarding the prospects for education.

Davis, Lois M., and Robert Bozick, Jennifer L. Steele, Jessica Saunders, and Jeremy N.V. Miles. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults. RAND, 2013.

This meta-analysis from the RAND Corporation, a non-partisan think tank, reviews research done on the topic of education in correctional institutions. The facts show that when incarcerated people have access to education, recidivism drops, career prospects improve, and taxpayers save money. There are differences based on the type of education (vocational versus general education) and the methods (using technology had better outcomes). It is interesting that the direct cost of the education was offset by the reduced recidivism rate, to the point where it is more cost effective to educate inmates. This analysis would be particularly useful for legislators and correctional institution policy makers. I did not see in this research any discussion of student selection; I believe there may be some skewed data if the people choosing to attend education may already be more likely to have positive outcomes.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wm. H. Wise & Co., 1929.

In this collection of writing, Emerson insists that primary inspiration comes from nature and education is the vehicle that will “awaken him to the knowledge of this fact.” Emerson sees the nonchalance of children as something to aspire to, which should be left alone. He is critical of parents (and all adults) in diminishing the independence of children. This source is particularly useful when considering the alignment of educators and pupils. Emerson contends that true genius is novel and is not understood unless there is proper alignment between educators and pupils. I think this is a valuable source for pupils by increasing their level of “self-trust.”

Gladwell, Malcolm. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, Little, Brown & Co., 2014.

Malcolm Gladwell generally has some interesting takes on the world at large. In this book he looks at what is considered a strength and where it may originate. The most interesting part of his argument, I believe, is that which states that a perceived deficiency, like dyslexia, may serve as a catalyst for increased ability in another area. Gladwell says that compensation learning can be achieved when there is a desirable difficulty. This book, and much of Gladwell’s work, can be especially useful for those which want to look beyond the surface of the world to make sense of seemingly random data. Much of the book rang true to me since I have had an especially hard time reading at an adequate speed, but can listen to an audiobook and recite it almost verbatim in an essay.

Hurley, J. Casey. “What Does It Mean to Be Educated?” Midwestern Educational Researcher, vol. 24, no. 4, 2011, p.2-4.

In his keynote speech, the speaker sets forth an argument for his understanding of an “educated” person. The six virtues he espouses are: understanding, imagination, strength, courage, humility, and generosity. These, he states, can lift a person past the baseline of human nature which is instinctively “ignorant, intellectually incompetent, weak, fearful of truth, proud and selfish” (3). I prefer this definition over any other that I have come across. I have been thinking a bit about the MAX attacks and how Micah Fletcher has responded to the attention he has received. I am proud to see a 21 year old respond with the level of awareness around social justice issues that he carries. These traits that he exemplifies, would not likely exist in this individual if it not for the education he has received at PSU.

Introduction to El Sistema. Annenberg Learner Firm, 2014. Films Media Group, 2016.

This video profiles El Sistema. El Sistema was designed in Venezuela by José Antonio Abreu in 1975 as a method for teaching social citizenship. The method is to have groups of children learn how to play orchestral music. It is community-based (parents participate) and more experienced members of the group are expected to teach younger students. In Venezuela, this program is government-funded as a social program, not an arts program. This video would be useful for those that are interested in how arts can be used for social change. I thought it was interesting that one of the first tasks that groups perform is to construct a paper violin. I am a fan of breaking down a complicated item, like the instrument, to its constituent parts.

Petrosino, Anthony and Carolyn Turpin-Petrosino, and John Buehler. “‘Scared Straight’ and Other Juvenile Awareness Programs for Preventing Juvenile Delinquency.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 589, 2003, pp. 41-62. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002796.pub2

This article is a meta-analysis of Scared Straight and similar crime deterrence programs. These programs were very popular when I was in high school and are still in use today. The analysis shows that these programs actually increase the likelihood for crime, which is the opposite effect of the well-meaning people that implement such programs. This is particularly useful for those that are contemplating implementing such a program. Also, it is a good example of how analysis should drive decisions around childhood education. I do remember programs like this from when I was in high school, but I was not because I was not considered high-risk enough at the time. It would be interesting to see if the data is detailed enough to see if selection bias affected some of the high rates of incarceration for these offenders.

Robinson, Ken. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?TED, February 2006.

In this video Ken Robinson simply states that creativity is as important as literacy. Creativity, he defines, as “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Robinson states that children are regrettably “educated out of creativity” and that is imperative that we do not stigmatize failure. To emphasize this point he gives an example of a cohort of children which would retire in 2065, but no one can possibly imagine what the world may look like then. This piece is particularly useful for the fact that it highlights the ways creativity may be stifled or encouraged. There are is a bit of conflating of creativity and ADHD in this video, but in either case the message is to listen and encourage the pupil as a whole being.

Smith, Karen. “Decolonizing Queer Pedagogy.” Journal of Women and Social Work, vol. 28, no. 4, 2013, pp. 468-470. SAGE, doi: 10.1177/0886109913505814.

`In Karen Smith’s essay, the purpose of education—at least the course entitled Queer Theories and Identities—is to “interrupt queer settler colonialism by challenging students to study the ways in which they inherit colonial histories and to insist that they critically question the colonial institutions through which their rights are sought” (469). This particular course is then, going beyond simply informing pupils, but attempting to interrupt oppressive patriarchal systems. This article is particularly useful as an example of education as social activism. This theme is not one that is explored greatly in other works and looks at education as a means of overthrowing the system, instead of pieces which may looking at increasing an individual’s knowledge or their contribution to society.


Teacher Takeaways
“This annotated bibliography fulfills its purpose well: it sets out to answer a question, then brings a variety of voices into conversation as a sort of ‘recommended reading.’ If the author continued to pursue this purpose, I would advise them to elaborate on how these sources might be applicable/useful. What would a classroom inspired by these texts look like? Although this AB is useful in answering its guiding question, this author would likely struggle with scope if they tried to use this AB as fodder for a research essay. The different sources offer a diversity of ideas, but they don’t speak to the same topic.”– Professor Dawson


Pirates & Anarchy8

(Annotated Bibliography – see the proposal here and the final paper here)

“About Rose City Antifa.” Rose City Antifa.

The “about” page of Rose City Antifa’s website has no author or date listed. It is referenced as a voice in the conversation around current political events. This is the anarchic group that took disruptive action during the Portland May Day rally, turning the peaceful demonstration into a destructive riot. This page on their website outlines some core beliefs regarding what they describe as the oppressive nature of our society’s structure. They specifically point to extreme right wing political groups, so-called neo-nazis, as the antithesis of what antifa stands for. Along with this, they state that they acknowledge the frustration of “young, white, working-class men.” Antifa as a group intends to give these men a meaningful culture to join that doesn’t include racism in its tenets, but seeks freedom and equality for all. Action is held in higher regards than rhetoric. This voice is important to this body of research as a timely and local consideration on how anarchy and anarchic groups relate to piratical acts in the here and now.

Chappell, Bill. “Portland Police Arrest 25, Saying A May Day Rally Devolved Into ‘Riot’.” Oregon Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, 2 May 2017.

This very short news report documents the events at the Portland May Day Rally this past May 2nd. What began as a peaceful rally for workers’ rights became a violent protest when it was taken over by a self-described anarchist group. The group vandalized property, set fires, and hurled objects at police. This is an example of recent riots by local anarchist groups that organize interruptions of other political group’s permitted demonstrations in order to draw attention to the anarchist agenda. The value of this report is that it shows that anarchy is still a philosophy adopted by certain organizations that are actively seeking to cause disruption in political conversation.

Dawdy, S. L. & J. Bonni. “Towards a General Theory of Piracy.” Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 85, no. 3, 2012, pp. 673-699. Project MUSE, doi: 10.1353/anq.2012.0043.

Comparisons are drawn between Golden Age pirates and current intellectual pirates in this in-depth article looking at piracy over time. The authors offer a definition of piracy as “a form of morally ambiguous property seizure committed by an organized group which can include thievery, hijacking, smuggling, counterfeiting, or kidnapping” (675). They also state that pirates are “organizations of social bandits” going on to discuss piracy as a rebellion against capitalist injustices (696). The intentional anarchic nature of the acts committed are a response to being left behind economically by political structures. The authors conclude with a warning that “we might look for a surge in piracy in both representation and action as an indication that a major turn of the wheel is about to occur” (696) These anthropological ideas reflect the simmering political currents we are experiencing now in 2017. Could the multiple recent bold acts of anarchist groups portend more rebellion in our society’s future? The call for jobs and fair compensation are getting louder and louder in western countries. If political structures cannot provide economic stability, will citizens ultimately decide to tear it all down? The clarity of the definitions in this article are helpful in understanding what exactly is a pirate and what their presence may mean to society at large.

Hirshleifer, Jack. “Anarchy and Its Breakdown.” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 103, no. 1, 1995, pp. 26-52.

This rather dense article is written around the question of the sustainability of anarchic organizations. The goals and activities are discussed in their most basic form in terms of resource gathering, distribution and defense. It does provide a solid definition of anarchy by stating, “anarchy is a social arrangement in which contenders struggle to conquer and defend durable resources, without effective regulation by either higher authorities or social pressures.” While social groups are connected in order to obtain resources, there is not hierarchy of leadership. The author does discuss the fragility of these groups as well. Agreement on a social contract is challenging as is remaining cohesive and resisting merging with other groups with different social contracts. This element of agreement on structure make sense in terms of piratical organizations. Captains are captains at the pleasure of the crew so long as his/her decision making enables the group as a whole to prosper. The anarchy definition is useful to bring understanding on what ties these groups together.

Houston, Chloe, editor. New Worlds Reflected: Travel and Utopia in the Early Modern Period, Ashgate, 2010.

This book, which is a collection of essays, explores the idea of utopia. The editor describes it in the introduction as “an ideal place which does not exist”—a notion that there is in human nature a desire to discover the “perfect” place, but that location is not attainable (1). The desire itself is key because of the exploration it sparks. There are three parts to the book, the second being “Utopian Communities and Piracy.” This section mostly contains essays that relate to explorations for the New World and pirate groups’ contributions that either helped or hindered the success of such expeditions. While there is much that is interesting here, especially in terms of “utopia” as a motivator, there is not much that lends information on piratical exploits. I’ll likely not use this source in my essay.

“I Am Not a Pirate.” This American Life, episode 616, National Public Radio, 5 May 2017,

This podcast showcased three examples of pirates, discussing the circumstances surrounding their choice to enter that world and the consequences that befell them. One example was a gentleman pirate from the early 1700s who bit off more than he could chew. Another was a Somali-American who went back to Somalia to help reestablish government in the region and ended up tangled in the gray area between good intention and criminality. The final pirate is a female Chinese pirate from the early 1800s who was so successful that she was able to remake the rules of piracy to her and her crew’s great advantage. The information offered in this podcast includes valuable information (especially regarding Somalia) on the opportunities or lack thereof that attract otherwise normal individuals to piracy. The vacuum of ineffectual governance and unfair economic practices both contribute to this. Citizens’ determination to be masters of their own destiny results from this lack of central societal structure. They choose desperate measures.

Otto, Lisa. “Benefits of Buccaneering: The Political Economy of Maritime Piracy in Somalia and Kenya.” African Security Review, vol. 20, no. 4, 2011, pp. 45-52. Taylor & Francis, doi: 10.1080/10246029.2011.630809.

The economy of piracy in Somalia is addressed in this article. From the economic vacuum of a failed state leaving citizens to turn to desperate measures, to the eventual organization of piracy into burgeoning industry, perfect conditions existed for the normalization of criminal acts. The article goes on to elaborate on the costs to other industries in the region, to the social structure of Somalia, and the cost in lives lost. Finally, the author makes suggestions for counter-piracy strategies. Interestingly, those suggestions are similar to the efforts that ultimately led to the ending of piracy in Somalia, as referenced in the more recent podcast, “I Am Not a Pirate.” Published around 2011, this article predates the demise of the industry after 2012. The research value here is in the economic and social factors that led otherwise average citizens to violent criminality. The decentralization of government in particular leading to clans sanctioning piracy is especially interesting in terms of anarchic political structure.

Samatar, Abdi Ismail, Mark Lindberg, and Basil Mahayni. “The Dialectics of Piracy in Somalia: The Rich Versus the Poor.” Third World Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 8, 2010, pp. 1377-1394. EBSCO, doi: 10.1080/01436597.2010.538238.

This article is similar topically to the Otto article, though it is a much deeper dive into the historical and political events that led to the collapse of the Somali centralized government. It also describes various piratical incidents as the criminal industry became more rampant. There is a list of four conditions that precipitate the foundation of modern piratical groups with similar themes noted in other articles. These should be referenced in my essay. The author also states, “It appears that the patterns of piracy in East Asia, and West and East Africa shadow global economic cycles and reflect the contestation over resources between the powerful and the poor” (1379).The idea of “moral economy” is addressed as the argument is made that a certain portion of Somali pirates are practicing “defensive piracy.” This in particular is useful as it outlines the consequences when the people’s expectations of government are not met—those expectations being a certain amount of livelihood and security. Citizens in poverty then believe it is their right to rebel when those in power shirk their responsibilities.

Snelders, Stephen, with a preface by Peter Lamborn Wilson. The Devils Anarchy: The Sea Robberies of the Most Famous Pirate Claes G. Compaen and The Very Remarkable Travels of Jan Erasmus Reyning, Buccaneer, Autonomedia, 2005.

The Devil’s Anarchy is a small book of about two hundred pages that outlines the loose societal structures of seafaring pirate groups that shunned hierarchical systems in their ranks. The historical tales of several pirates, including Claes Compaen and Jan Erasmus Reyning, are told. These swashbuckling accounts are full of details describing pirate lifestyles. The truly useful portions of the book are the introduction and the final chapter entitled “The Politics of Piracy.” The preface by Peter Wilson discusses ideas of “freedom” as the primary motivator for those seeking this way of life, a dismissal of expected norms of society. The last chapter talks about the ways in which the anarchical approach both helped and hindered various pirate groups. These ideas will be helpful in drawing connections between anarchy and piracy.

Wachhaus, T. Aaron. “Anarchy as a Model for Network Governance.” Public Administration Review, vol. 72, no. 1, 2011, pp. 33-42. Wiley, doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6210.2011.02481.x.

This author of this article seeks to propose the application of anarchist perspectives onto network studies and theory. There is a shift of mind necessary to turn from hierarchical structures of management to one that is a linkage of groups acting collectively. Several points of direction are listed as suggestions for moving toward this perspective. Repeatedly, the author mentions the necessary strength in the linkages of groups, to provide stability and promote “dynamic” activity and sharing. More research is called for to discover what has made anarchy-oriented groups successful in the past. While this article isn’t specific to political groups, it does break down elements of anarchic social structure in a way that provides clarity to how they tend to be organized. There is similar ideas of collective action and sharing of resources, in this case information, and fairness in distribution and contribution of actors in these groups. This will be helpful for synthesizing information on anarchy in application to pirate groups.

Williams, Daniel E. “Refuge Upon the Sea: Captivity and Liberty in The Florida Pirate.” Early American Literature, vol. 36, no. 1, 2001, pp. 71-88. Project MUSE, doi: 10.1353/ea1.2001.0009.

This is a review of a text from the 1820’s called The Florida Pirate. The text tells the tale of a slave that escapes slavery and becomes a pirate—the oppressed becoming the oppressor. His ultimate demise comes when he chooses to set free some captives rather than kill them, which is rewarded with those captives betraying the ex-slave to the authorities. He is then executed. According to the author of the review, it is the slave’s personal journey through these incarnations of his personhood that were intended as a condemnation of the institution of slavery. The text was intended to compare slave-owners to pirates in an attempt to highlight the criminal nature of owning humans. While this is a fascinating read,

and piques my interest in reading the original text, it is less relevant to my argument. It refers to a fictional work rather than factual events.

Teacher Takeaways

“This annotated bibliography includes very detailed summary with accurate citations. I also like that the student is clearly considering how they will make use of the source in their research essay. If they were to keep working on the annotations, I would ask them to revise with attention to credibility; certainly these sources have different degrees of credibility, and I would like to see more explicit consideration of that.”– Professor Dawson


A Case of Hysterics9

(Annotated Bibliography – see the proposal here and the final paper here)

Annandale, Ellen. “Missing Connections: Medical Sociology and Feminism.” Medical Sociology Newsletter, vol. 31, no. 3, 2005, pp. 35-52. Medical Sociology Online.

This journal article looks into how society’s definition of gender has changed, and how medical sociology needs to change with it. The author proposes that that there is a need to bring feminist theory and gender-related research on health and illness within medical sociology much closer together than they are at present. Annandale argues that “Within this new single system the common experience of health-related oppression is produced differently, and experienced differently, through systematically driven processes of sex/gender fragmentation” (69). This source is unique because it addresses the concept that gender as we know it today is much different than what it was when Hysteria was a common phrase. Annandale recognizes that sexism in the medical field is prominent, and that sexism reinforces these exhausted gender stereotypes.

——. Womens Health and Social Change, Routledge, 2009.

Upon researching for this paper, I’ve learned that Ellen Annandale is a very reputable source on the topics of feminism, sociology, and epidemiology. In this book, she discusses the relation between women’s health and their position in society at the time from the perspective of women writers and feminists. Because of the past negative appraisal of feminine capabilities, she argues that we have been forced into a binary society that is characteristic of our patriarchal past. She boldly defines the system of women’s health as a brand of patriarchal capitalism. Interestingly, she also brings forth the knowledge that the gender gap is decreasing in terms of life expectancy. Why has men’s life expectancy improved so greatly while women’s falls short? Ignorance. This has already proven useful in my research due to the addressing of current health issues that affect both men and women due to sexism.

“Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine – Hysteria.” Science Museum, [Expired link]

This brief web article serves to loosely explain the history of Hysteria as a disease. The author begins with Plato and ends with the eradication of the term hysteria in the mid-1960s. While the article’s purpose is to explain where hysteria began and where it has come to, the author offers a brief acknowledgment that the practices are still with us in modern medicine. The author states that modern doctors have merely “cloaked old ideas behind new words.” While this source doesn’t offer a lot of thesis support, it is useful as a reliable source of facts on the history of Hysteria. This article will be helpful in creating a timeline for the practice of diagnosing women with the disease.

Culp-Ressler, Tara. “When Gender Stereotypes Become a Serious Hazard to Women’s Health.” ThinkProgress, 11 May 2015,

In this web article, Culp-Ressler analyzes the widespread and serious effects that gender stereotypes can perpetuate within the medical field. She utilizes individual accounts of women who experienced sexism when seeking medical attention, as well as current studies which further prove the gap that exists between male and female healthcare quality in the United States. Through these detailed experiences, Culp-Ressler argues that the frequent disregard for women’s knowledge of their own bodies contributes to both harmful gender stereotypes as well as deadly diseases that go untreated. She states that society is willfully ignorant in their knowledge of female medicine: “This has been going on for centuries… conversion, hysteria, the name changes but it’s still the same and it’s happening today.” This will be useful in that it presents a number of documented cases of misdiagnosis; especially with a common theme in being treated as a mentally ill patient rather than one experiencing pain. This source follows my argument rather closely, and will be helpful in supporting my thesis.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” 1892. Archived at U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 June 2017, [also available at].

The Yellow Wallpaper is an important narrative from the early 1900s that illustrates the delusional medical procedures placed onto women. Gilman herself experienced what was called the “rest cure,” which in essence confined women who were diagnosed with Hysteria or nervous diseases in a room to do nothing, limiting their “stressors”. They were forced to eat copious amounts of food to gain weight, and they were allowed no company. This story is told from the perspective of an insane person, as she herself admittedly nearly slipped into madness. If anything, this piece serves as a firsthand account of the damage done to women in a time when they had less rights, and when women’s medicine was seriously lacking. This will be helpful in understanding how these treatments were accepted by the public, as well as noting the unintended effects of said treatments.

——. “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” 1913. Archived at The College of Staten Island, City University of New York, 8 June 1999, [Link expired]. [Also available via The National Library of Medicine and The American Yawp Reader].

This brief letter was meant to address the many inquiries that Gilman received about her story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” This letter is meant to explain that although she added little “embellishments and additions”, it remains a fully viable account of a woman who fell into madness because of unsound medical advice. Within, she details her nervous breakdowns. She also provides details of the lifestyle she was told to lead in order to keep her nerves at bay: she was given advice to “‘live as domestic a life as far as possible,’ to ‘have but two hours’ intellectual life a day,’ and ‘never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again’ as long as I lived.” Of course, this didn’t work. Just as “The Yellow Wallpaper” is helpful in providing an in depth look at someone experiencing such a treatment, Gilman’s letter is useful in that it was written in a place where she had fully recovered due to not taking her physician’s advice. She also notes that a different physician read her book, and since had ceased prescribing “rest cures”. First-hand accounts of experiences such as these will help provide credibility to my argument.

Gilman, Sander L., et al. Hysteria beyond Freud, University of California Press, 1993.

Though this book has five authors contributing, the section titled “Hysteria, Feminism, and Gender” will be the most useful for this paper. In this essay, Elaine Showalter attempts to explain to the reader that although the term “hysteria” was used mainly by men toward females as a negative term, modern women are “reclaiming” the feminine right of hysteria. Feminism was coming more into the mainstream during the early/mid 90s, when this book was published. It is clear that Showalter’s views might not hold true today, because of more recent medical studies confirming the falseness of Hysteria. This piece is interesting because in her attempt to argue the reclamation of hysteria by modern feminists, she succumbs to the long-enforced stereotypes of patriarchal medicine and culture. This source would be helpful to demonstrate the extent to which sexism can reach, internalization of stereotypes is common. While this book might not help in furthering my argument, it is interesting to see women that view Hysteria as a right of femininity and something to be claimed.

Kellogg, John Harvey. Ladies Guide in Health and Disease: Girlhood, Maidenhood, Wifehood, Motherhood, Modern Medicine Publishing Co., 1896. Archived at University of North Texas Health Science Center, 4 March 2011, [Link expired]. [Also available via]

This book’s title screams exactly what its purpose was: describing women’s health risks based on what part of life they were in (all parts centered around the presence or absence of a man). Limiting women to particular and confined social roles was the norm in the early 1900s. This book is so sexist, and so perfect for my paper. Not unlike Emily Post, Kellogg attempts to explain to women the necessary steps they ought to take in order to lead healthy, childbearing lives. Aside from being hilarious, this instruction manual is written by a man, for women, and perfectly demonstrates how sexism has continually permeated the medical field.

Scull, Andrew. Hysteria: The Disturbing History, Oxford University Press, 2011.

In this book, Andrew Scull covers a lot of ground as he moves through analyzing the history of Hysteria. His argument centers on a Freudian Hysteria, and how his views (or rather all psychoanalytical views) came to be seen as obsolete but Hysteria still lingers with new vocabulary. Scull also delves into the history of men being diagnosed with Hysteria, or nervous diseases, most specifically due to the Second World War. He notes that as Hysteria was seen as a feminine disease and an affliction of the imagination, these men received little to no treatment – similar to females diagnosed with hysteria. They were seen as cowardly and inferior for something that today would be easily recognizable as post-traumatic stress disorder. This source will be helpful in demonstrating that while the patients were male, they were seen as contracting a feminine disease that was “made up in the mind,” therefore hindering the help that they needed. This illustrates the bias that exists with illnesses associated with women.

Tasca, Cecilia, et al. “Women and Hysteria in The History of Mental Health.” Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, vol. 8, no. 1, 2012, pp. 110-119. BioMed Central Open Access Free, doi: 10.2174/1745017901208010110.

This is a thought-provoking scientific look at the history of women being diagnosed with mental disorders (specifically nervous diseases like Hysteria) correlated to where in the world and at what historical time these diagnoses occurred. Tasca aims to inform the audience that perhaps the role of women in these different global locations contributes to firstly the opportunity to be diagnosed by a sexist male physician, as well as whether their emotions would be seen as varying from the norm. She further explains this by saying, “We have seen that both the symptomatic expression of women’s malaise and the culturally specific interpretation of the same malaise witness the changing role of women. From incomprehensible Being (and therefore mean of the Evil) to frail creatures that try, however, to manipulate the environment to their own ends (in Freud’s view) to creature arbiter of his fate (in the modern transformation from hysteria to melancholia), where the woman seems to have traded power with the loneliness and guilt.” This article has given me a new look at why and how these misdiagnoses are so common and continuing. It is helpful due to its extensive studies in multiple parts of the world, as well as Tasca’s analysis of the effect that the evolution of the role of women has on stereotypes.

Teacher Takeaways

“This annotated bibliography shows that the student is thinking critically about their sources, but also approaching them with an open mind to avoid confirmation bias. Judging by the citations, this student has made good use of their library’s database subscriptions. They have also indicated how they intend to use certain sources in the essay they will write. If anything, I might say that these annotations are a bit too long: the density of each (especially in terms of summary) would make it difficult to use as a research tool.”– Professor Wilhjelm

Planting the Seed: Norway’s Strong Investment in Parental Leave10

Few experiences, if any, can match the power of becoming a parent, both in terms of sheer magnitude and pure happiness. Many parents consider the birth of their children their lives’ single greatest moments—the heart and purpose of human existence. From the instant a tiny, brand-new life is handed off to eager parents, overcome with awe and amazement at the sight of what they created together, friends, family and even strangers come forward bursting with excitement to pour out their deepest affection to the new arrival. To the world, a birth inspires hope and radiates joy, even for those who never have children of their own. But with it also come some intense fears. From worries over the ever-soaring prices of daycare to concerns about simply finding the time to properly raise a child amid work and other life obligations, welcoming a new baby gets frightening quickly. Time off from work to focus fully on the many challenges of baby-rearing can drastically ease the burden for moms and dads. New parents all across the world know this, but few actually experience it as strongly as those in Norway.

From low crime rates to accessible health care to high-quality education, all piled on top of immediately obvious breathtaking scenery, countless perks make it clear why Norway was ranked the happiest country in the world for 2017 (Hetter)—not the least of which is the country’s generosity toward new parents. Norway offers one of the best parental leave policies in the world, granting parents a liberal sum of both shared and individual paid leave so they can stop and concentrate on parenthood during their newborns’ critical early months, and fostering gender equality by allowing paid leave time for fathers. Meanwhile, many other countries, like the U.S., the world’s only industrialized nation to guarantee no paid parental leave whatsoever, place a lesser focus on time off for parents, seemingly without respect for the myriad struggles new families face. This could be to the disadvantage of not only moms and dads but also the economy at large, given the many benefits of parental leave— reduced infant mortality, better care for babies, reduced likelihood of mental illness for mothers and savings for businesses—most of which carry into the long-term (Wallace). Considering even a few advantages of parental leave, it’s easy to wonder why more countries don’t make leave for parents a top priority, especially when countries like Norway are realizing its positive impacts.

While Norway (along with a small handful of other countries) currently leads the way when it comes to parental leave following a birth, the country once offered leave for working mothers that more so resembled what the U.S. offers today—which isn’t much. Before the introduction of new leave reform in 1977, Norway only gave mothers 12 weeks off after the birth of a child, and with no pay; today, however, mothers get about a full year of paid leave and an additional year of job protection (Carneiro). So what does that mean for the busy, modern-day working mother? For Else Marie Hasle, a 32-year-old marketing professional living in Oslo, Norway’s capital city, it meant 11 months at home with her infant daughter while collecting 80 percent of her salary (Grose). In an August 2014 interview with Slate Magazine, Hasle explained that she spent the three weeks at home before the birth of her daughter, Natalia, at home and remained home with Natalia until she was 10 months old (Grose). Mothers like Hasle also have the option of a shorter leave period with 100 percent of their pay. The choice of shorter leave with more pay, or vice versa, is up to the mother.

The permission for parents to choose their own terms makes Norway’s parental leave not only generous but also flexible. Right now, according to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, or NAV for short, Norway offers parents 49 weeks at full salary or 59 weeks at 80 percent pay—one of the longest parental leave allowances in the world. This time includes three weeks of leave for the mother prior to the baby’s due date and 10 weeks each for the mother and the father—called “maternal quotas” and “paternal quotas,” respectively—as well as 26 or 36 weeks, depending on the terms the couple chooses (salary in full or at 80 percent), which may be distributed among the parents as they see fit (“Parental Benefit”). Parents who adopt a child younger than 15 years of age may also draw benefits. These numbers are only matched by a handful of other countries, which includes Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

The reality for American mothers paints a bleak contrast to the situation in northern Europe. In the U.S., which stands alone as the only developed country in the world to guarantee no paid leave to either parent following a birth, expectant mothers apply for time off through the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, which allows up to 12 weeks of job-protected and employee benefits-protected leave (“FMLA”). Unfortunately, mothers must spend this time taking a pay cut. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the world mandates some form of paid parental leave. Many countries also provide paid leave for fathers. Nearly half of 167 countries whose leave policies were examined in 2013 by the International Labor Organization offer paternity leave (Lord). The sad state of leave for new parents in the U.S. has remained a top issue of concern among politicians in recent years, oftentimes catching the common counter-argument that it simply costs businesses and the economy too much money. But while this is an important point, parental leave appears to be worth it in the long run.

A new mother leaving her place of work to dedicate time caring for a newborn continues to hold a position within the organization and to draw benefits, and, in countries that mandate paid maternity leave, to also receive a paycheck—all for no work. Considering the same circumstance for fathers as well spells double trouble for both productivity and revenue for businesses. Consider Christa Clapp, an American climate change economist living and working in Oslo with her husband, who took about a full year away from her job in 2016 to care for her son. But Clapp, writing for the “On Parenting” section of the Washington Post, argues that paid parental leave is actually a smart move for a country’s economy. The economic value of more mothers staying in the workforce full time, she claims, offsets the costs of the parental leave that makes it possible and results in an altogether more productive society (Clapp). Companies also save money on training and turnover costs because mothers are more likely to stay with the same employer after their leave (Wallace). What’s more, fathers taking their own paid leave creates a culture in which dads are more present in their children’s lives, and a more gender-equal and balanced workforce—a reality that fades in the U.S., where women often transition from employee to stay-at-home mom because it makes more economical sense for the family.

The benefits of parental leave appear to be strongest for mothers, like Clapp, and their children. In the immediate, obvious sense, the mother is home with the baby and free to devote her time to caring for and bonding with her child. But the benefits run deeper and last longer than what one can see at face value. A 2011 study of the leave policies in 141 different countries found that paid parental leave can actually reduce infant mortality by as much as 10 percent; another study found that paid leave also increases the odds that babies will be seen regularly by a health care professional and receive vaccinations on time (Wallace). Paid parental leave also makes breastfeeding, the healthiest meal option for babies, more successful, with women who take leave generally breastfeeding about twice as long as those who don’t (Ibid.). Mothers who take paid parental leave also face a smaller likelihood of mental health challenges, such as depression, even as many as 30 years later in life (Ibid.). This means that not only is mom in better condition when caring for her infant under the protection of paid leave, but the relationship between mother and baby is also healthier. And these benefits are lasting.

Children continue to reap the benefits of paid parental leave even into their adult years. A team of researchers examined the long-term impacts of maternity leave in Norway since the country’s introduction of paid, job-protected leave time for mothers on July 1, 1977. The team compared the outcomes of children born both before and after July 1, 1977, when new reform began guaranteeing paid leave to mothers, and found that “reform had strong effects on children’s subsequent high school dropout rates and earnings at age 30, especially for those whose mothers had less than 10 years of education” (Carneiro). Thus, increased time at home with children—especially time during which mothers can relax without fear of sacrificing their income—can lead to success in the child’s life. These findings, taken with the numerous benefits to mothers, demonstrate that parental leave isn’t necessarily a financial liability for businesses, who end up paying employees for no work; rather, it’s a wise investment not only in the short-term future of the worker but also in the long-term future of the country’s broader economy. But while these benefits focus on mothers and children, as does much of the research on parental leave, paid time off for fathers following a birth has its perks as well.

One of the unique features of parental leave in countries like Norway is that it also allows fathers to break away from work for time with their new children. Fathers in Norway enjoy 10 weeks of paid parental leave—referred to as a “paternal quota”—and they may also take additional time that comes from a leave bank they share with their partners, depending on their agreement with their spouses (“Parental Benefit”). To some, this may seem counterintuitive. For thousands of years, much of the world has believed that mothers exclusively—or at least mostly—handle newborn and infant care. Perhaps this is because, in the animal kingdom, it often makes the most sense, from the standpoint of survival. It once made sense for humans as well. But the human race of today is different, with fathers involving themselves more and more in their children’s lives from an early age—and to the benefit of both child and mother.

Currently, in many households, both parents work full-time. And despite a common theme throughout history of male superiority in the workplace—at least when it comes to salary—in 40 percent of families with children, the mother is the sole or primary provider of income (Livingston). This means that, more than ever, fathers are taking on childcare responsibilities. Aside from simply freeing dads up to shoulder the work of child-rearing equally with their spouses, leave for fathers results in stronger, lasting father-child bonds. Dads who take at least 10 days of parental leave are more likely than those who don’t take any leave at all to stay actively involved with child care; in Iceland, 70 percent of men who take parental leave are sharing care with their partners as far out as three years later (Wallace). Active fathers are a norm in Norwegian culture today, most likely because of parental leave.

Keeping dads active in child care, and in turn active in the child’s life altogether, is good for the whole family. Research has shown that a strong connection between father and child promotes social and emotional development, such as learning to regulate feelings and behaviors, and also results in better educational outcomes for the child (Oliker). Greater involvement of fathers also fosters gender equality in both the household and the workplace. Through shared and individual leave quotas, a father can help his spouse tackle childcare more like an equal; in doing so, he helps free his partner up to return to work and stay at work, evening the playing in the professional environment.

In the U.S., gender roles still largely represent traditional, more dated values and beliefs. Men are guaranteed no parental leave, paid or otherwise, and are therefore often less active and available in their children’s early months and years than their Norweigan counterparts. Gender inequity is accentuated and even mocked in the U.S. This inequality could be the result of no paid parental leave policy for Americans, and it could also be what’s holding such a policy back.

At any rate, it’s a central, relevant problem, along with a host of other factors, like extreme individualism, which keeps Americans working 60- to 70-hour weeks just to climb the professional ladder. Thus, for Americans, the birth of a new baby is often scary and intimidating when it should be tender, happy and exciting. With paid leave for new parents, the event could hold the special joy it’s naturally meant to. The introduction of paid parental leave would likely mean a challenge to ingrained patriarchal ideologies, although ultimately for the hope of a better society. Change is seldom easy, but it’s necessary for progress.

Teacher Takeaways

“The data presented here is well-integrated, and often supported by individual instances, which help to personalize what would otherwise seem like lifeless statistics and percentages. Sentences flow smoothly and main points are clear. However, the essay could use some reorganization and better transitions between sections. Overall, though, the argument benefits from a delayed thesis (a typical result of inquiry-based research); instead of outlining an argumentative stance in full at the beginning of the essay, the author waits until a thorough comparison is made between Norway and the United States, then allows for a natural progression to a final, persuasive conclusion.”– Professor Fiscaletti

Works Cited

Carneiro, Pedro et al. “A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long-Run Outcomes of Children.” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 123, no. 2, 2015, pp. 365-412. University of Chicago Press Journals, doi: 10.1086/679627.

Clapp, Christa. “The Smart Economics of Norway’s Parental Leave, and Why the U.S. Should Consider It.”, 11 January 2016. Infotrac Newsstand,

“FMLA (Family & Medical Leave).” United States Department of Labor, 06 May 2016,

Grose, Jessica. “What It’s Like for a Working Mom in Oslo, Norway.” Slate Magazine, 21 August 2014,

Hetter, Katia. “Where Are the World’s Happiest Countries?” CNN, 21 March 2017,

Livingston, Gretchen. “Among 41 Nations, U.S. Is the Outlier When It Comes to Paid Parental Leave.” Pew Research Center, 26 Sept 2016,

Lord, Andrew. “8 Countries That Put U.S. Paternity Leave to Shame.” The Huffington Post, 17 June 2015.

Oliker, Ditta M. “The Importance of Fathers.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 23 June 2011.

“Parental Benefit.” NAV, 19 July 2013,

Wallace, Kelly, and Jen Christensen. “The Benefits of Paid Leave for Children Are Real, Majority of Research Says.” CNN Wire, 29 Oct. 2015. Infotrac Newsstand,

Pirates and Anarchy: Social Banditry Toward a Moral Economy11

(Research essay – see the research proposal here and annotated bibliography here)

The power to prosper: is this not every human’s inalienable right? What happens when social, political, and economic systems conspire to limit the power of citizens to gain a fair share of resources? It may be that a government has sanctioned monopolistic practices to large corporate interests. It may be that racism or classism has damaged the ability of certain groups to exercise equal rights to education and employment. Perhaps the government structure has collapsed all together. The case could be that government actors have exchanged the well-being of citizens for ideological power and financial gain. Time and again, these types of inequitable scenarios have supplied the basis for otherwise average people to rise up and seize control of their own destinies. They disown the system. For freedom, for self-sufficiency, for a fair livelihood, they turn to anarchy. They turn pirate.

Pirates can be characterized as rebels rejecting societal structures that disenfranchise those with less access to resources. There is a common element of anarchy as a guiding philosophy of piracy. It is scaffolding on which to attempt to define why pirates do what they do. Viewing current political events through this lens, there seem to be more and more examples recently of small acts of piracy perpetrated by citizenry. This has taken the form of message hijacking at otherwise peaceful protests, rebellious attitudes and actions toward established government structure, cyber-attacks, and far-left-wing demonstrations and violence. Examining various piratical groups over time may help shed light on what current rebellious acts by citizens may portend.

To that end, let us begin by pinning down what exactly constitutes a pirate. The swashbuckling high-seas crews depicted in movies capture one incarnation. Rather, they display one romantic idea of what pirates might have been. Stripped of those trappings though, pirates can be defined in much simpler terms. Dawdy and Bonni define piracy as: “a form of morally ambiguous property seizure committed by an organized group which can include thievery, hijacking, smuggling, counterfeiting, or kidnapping” (675). These criminal acts have to do with forceful fair distribution of resources. When small powerful segments of society such as corporations, the wealthy, and the well-connected hoard these resources, pirate groups form to break down the walls of the stockpiles to re-establish level ground (Snelders 3).

Put another way, pirate cultures arise when the benefits of obtaining resources outside the rule of law outweigh the risk of violating the laws themselves (Samatar et al. 1378). When resources are unfairly distributed across society, citizens lose faith in the system of government. They see it as their right to take action outside the law because the government in charge of that law has shirked their responsibilities to provide security and a moral economy (Ibid. 1388). When the scope of the world narrows to eating or starving, when there is no one coming to save the day, when there is no other way out, when all that is left is survival, those are the moments that pirates are born. Citizens’ determination to be masters of their own destiny results from the lack of fair central societal structure. They choose desperate measures (“I Am Not”).

Piratical groups across time have other commonalities. They tend to be cohesive assemblies of displaced people. They have binding social agreements among members, such as work ethic and equal distribution of takings (Dawdy and Bonni 680-681). There tends to be an anti-capitalist agenda in the prizes sought as a bid for economic freedom. While locally sanctioned by average citizens, pirates act counter to the rule of law, especially when economic opportunity within societal norms becomes scarce (Dawdy and Bonni 677). Pirates act in defiance of government.

In fact, parallels can be drawn between piratical groups and the philosophy of anarchy. Indeed, as noted above, pirates emerge out of the void left when hierarchical governments either collapse or abandon their responsibilities to citizens. Anarchy is the antithesis of centralized government. It is governance by social networks (Wachhaus 33).

The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines anarchy as “A state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority or other controlling systems” (Anarchy). However, Hirshleifer provides a more robust explanation by stating “anarchy is a social arrangement in which contenders struggle to conquer and defend durable resources, without effective regulation by either higher authorities or social pressures” (27). The lack of an overarching power structure is the main idea in both definitions, but in the latter, the motivations and activities of such groups are considered.

In a system of anarchy, groups must act collectively to seize and defend resources. Dissolution of ties between members is always a threat dependent on the individual profits of fighting for and defending resources (Hirshleifer 48). Cohesion then is contingent on mutual success.

There is a shift of mind necessary to turn from hierarchical structures of management to one that is a linkage of groups acting communally. Without decisive leaders in the power structure, social contracts can be difficult to construct and manage (Hirshleifer 48). The fluid nature then of anarchic group organization leaves them fragile. Group members must agree on goals and methods in order to achieve stability. Agreement on a social contract is challenging as is remaining cohesive and resisting merging with other groups with different social contracts (Hirshleifer 48). Fairness in distribution of holdings and contribution of actors in these groups is essential (Wachhaus 33-34). The constraints on authority within anarchic structures and the social agreements necessary for actionable goal achievement, mean that these groups are small and locally oriented. They must focus on the here and now of meeting the needs of members.

The anarchic element of agreement on structure makes sense in terms of piratical organizations as well. Captains are captains at the pleasure of the crew so long as his/her decision-making enables the group as a whole to prosper. His/her skills are useful only if plunder is acquired regularly and allotted equally. Crews are successful so long as they maximize skill sets and cooperate to compete with other groups to seize resources and to defend them. Therein lies their strength. A resistance of submission to anything but self-rule is, of course, paramount. To illustrate this, let us now explore some cases of pirates over time.

Piracy has been in existence throughout the ages and has taken on many forms. It is beyond the scope of this paper to cover the detailed history from its inception to current times. However, a few examples will be described that help to showcase the idea of societal inequalities leading to anarchy and piracy.

One of these incarnations was the seafaring sort terrorizing ships during the Golden Age of Piracy. This was during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reaching an extreme height of activity from 1690 to 1730 (Skowronek and Ewen 2). This exacerbation began after a combination of economic factors. First, the British Royal Navy released thousands of sailors by 1715 following the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (Snelders 168). Employment competition for these skilled seamen was fierce. Available posts were minimal and working conditions poor. This left many to turn to a life of piracy as a way to find occupation and freedom from oppressive maritime companies. Also, government sanctioned monopolization of trade mercantile companies caused damage to local economies. Smaller operations were not allowed to compete. The glut of unemployed sailors gave rise to piracy as economic protest (Dawdy and Bonni 681-682; Snelders 168). In fact, piracy in the early 1700s worked to throw trade into turmoil (Dawdy and Bonni 681). They robbed ships specifically to clip the metaphorical purse strings of enterprises such as the East India Company, which held a monopoly on maritime trade. Pirates during this time believed that their practices, violent though they were, were justified. It was their right to find their fortune outside the societal structure that would have them live in poverty.

Piracy was therefore a bid for freedom (Wilson xi). They were “organizations of social bandits,” rebelling against capitalistic injustices (Dawdy and Bonni 675). The intentional anarchic nature of the acts committed were a response to being left behind economically by political structures. They were fleeting and yes, floating communities involved in this social banditry intent on “Redistribution of economic wealth that would otherwise flow to merchant capitalists and state bureaucracies” (Snelders 3). They acted to balance the scales, though it should be said that those with even less access to resources also suffered at the hands of the pirates. Though this paper will not be going into specific details of exploits, it should be acknowledged that not all groups during the Golden Age of Piracy acted for the good of the moral economy.

Each of these pirate operations had its own micro-culture. To say they were all the same would be reductive. However, there was a generalizable pirate code during this time. Many of the elements of anarchy discussed above apply to the structure of these brotherhoods. Pirates created their own societies with their own agreed upon rules (Snelders 3). Pirate cultures demanded “mutual discussion, agreement upon goals, strategy, and tactics, and a fair distribution of the plunder” (Ibid. 162). Fraternal bonds were powerful. Without country or refuge, they had only their brotherhood by which to bind themselves (Ibid. 198). Home was a ship. Family was their crew. All the world their country. Pirate life was short and violent. They spent their shared plunder and celebrated often as if it were their last day on earth (Ibid. 198). The fact was that that might just be the case.

The pirate industry of the Golden Age of Piracy could not last. They had flouted their lawlessness and power too much. They had inflicted massive damage on the fortunes of the East India Company. Governments resolved to hunt down pirate operations (Skowronek and Ewen 2). Some slipped away to anonymity, but the majority were captured and hung as criminals. The Golden Age thus faded to legend. However, this was not the end of piracy.

An example of piracy in more modern times was the Somali pirates that preyed on ships skirting the Eastern African coast from 2008 to 2013. Many elements came together for this to take place. The crumbling state, a non-functioning government, clan rule, and tribal warfare all were contributors. Samatar et al. outline the following conditions that lead to modern piracy:

1) the existence of a favourable topographic environment;

2) the prevalence of ungoverned spaces—either as the result of legal dispute between states or simply because of their absence;

3) the existence of weak law enforcement or weak political will of governments or a cultural environment that is not hostile to piracy; and 4) the availability of great rewards for piracy while the risks are minimal. (1378)

All of these elements came together in Somalia to propagate piracy as a normalized practice. The downfall of the Somali government was the final catalyst for the emergence of piracy in the region (Samatar et al. 1384). State institutions became non-functioning, leaving instability in its wake (Otto 46). Without the structure of a central government, citizens were left to fend for themselves.

Piracy originated as ordinary Somali fishermen defending against foreign interests illegally looting fish from the coastline, depriving them of a valuable resource during desperate times (Otto 46; Samatar et al. 1387). There was no government force to prevent fish from being poached by adversarial enterprises seeking to capitalize on undefended waters. It fell to Somali citizens to maintain security.

What became evident was that there was a larger prize than fish as an economic resource. Protecting the waters became fining or taxing for territory invasion. This in turn became kidnapping and ransoming (“I Am Not”; Otto 46). According to Otto, “a single ransom can generate up to US $10 million” (47). In 2010 alone, 1000 people were taken hostage (“I Am Not”). In the vacuum that was Somalia’s economy at the time, ransom piracy became the main industry in the region. Without a centralized government, clans ran the country in a network of warring tribes (Ibid.). Warlords and other clan members helped in the recruitment and coordination of pirate groups (Otto 47). Locals could invest in piracy and expect returns. The pirates grew well-funded and well-armed (“I Am Not”).

Eradication of piracy was a long and complicated process. A slow to strengthen central government reformed and began working with clans to end the ransom industry through a three step plan. A condensed look at this goes like this: religious pirate shaming, creation of alternative economic incentives, and rehabilitation of pirates (“I Am Not”). They were, after all, at a basic level, fishermen in need of employment. These were the efforts on land. This combined with seaward endeavors by foreign navies, increased security on shipping industry vessels, along with the practice of sailing farther from the coast allowed for the elimination of the pirate activity (Ibid.). By 2013, the industry of piracy in Somalia was ended.

Somalia remains economically fragile. Clans still maintain a level of power. A re-emergence of rogue efforts to acquire resources doesn’t seem far-fetched. Piracy arises in this area of the world when global economic cycles leave the poor without proper access to economic participation (Samatar et al. 1379). It is a tried-and-true means of survival. Between piracy and community death by starvation, there is little choice. Now we will turn to a final and current piratical case.

This last example to be discussed is not a group of actors labeled as pirates. Rather they take action in a piratical manner. Self-identified anarchists, they are morally murky groups that utilize the practice of appropriating by force the protest demonstrations organized by other groups. This is done for the purpose of showcasing the anarchist agenda to which they subscribe (Farley). They seek to disrupt what they deem as society’s oppressive structure, particularly in terms of racism and fascism (“About Rose City”). These groups have become more active in defiance of the current political milieu in the United States.

At the Portland May Day Rally on May 2nd, 2016, what began as a peaceful and legally permitted rally for workers’ rights became a violent protest when it was taken over by an anarchist group (Chappell). Covered head to toe in black clothing complete with masked faces, the well-coordinated members of Rose City Antifa emerged from the crowd to sow chaos. The group vandalized property, set fires, and hurled objects at police.

Individual identities of members of anarchist groups are opaque. However, it is possible to find information on the belief system via their online presence. Rose City Antifa’s website outlines some core beliefs regarding what they describe as the oppressive nature of society’s structure. They see themselves in direct conflict with fascism. This is defined on their website as “an ultra-nationalist ideology that mobilizes around and glorifies a national identity defined in exclusive racial, cultural, and/or historical terms, valuing this identity above all other interests (ie: gender or class)” (About Rose City). The group points specifically to extreme right wing political organizations, so-called neo-nazis, as the antithesis of what Antifa stands for. Along with this is the acknowledgment of the frustration of “young, white, working-class men” in relation to economic opportunity. Antifa as a group intends to give these men a meaningful culture to join that doesn’t include racism in the tenets, but seeks freedom and equality for all. Action is held in higher regard than rhetoric. Thus the violent and destructive measures intended to send a strong and highly visible message.

Since the US election of 2016, citizens have become more politically engaged. Protests are once again growing normalized as the public seeks to have their political positions recognized by government representatives. Another anarchist group known as the Black Bloc create spectacle at a growing number of protests using militant tactics, especially property damage. They see political protests becoming more violent as a call out and call to arms to liberal citizens whom they feel are not taking right-wing activists with enough seriousness. The Black Bloc steadfastly believes in the righteousness of these tactics against fascism in the US, despite the illegality of such actions. They feel that they need to meet far right aggression with equal force in order to protect equal rights. Like other successful pirate operations, these anarchist groups have the will and the organization to take extreme measures (Farley).

The viewpoint is that this is standing up for the disenfranchised in a country where the centralized government has abdicated their duties. Freedom and facts being flouted by the current administration is stirring anarchist anger. The Black Bloc see themselves as rebelling against a system that is sanctioning a corrupt government (Farley).

Throughout this exploration of the above pirate groups, there is the thread of demanding a moral economy. One that provides an equal measure of opportunity and access to resources for all citizens in a nation. Samatar et al. explains it in this way:

The essence of the moral economy argument is that peasants and the poor in general have a set of expectations that govern their sense of justice. When such values are violated they respond vigorously to protect their livelihood and their sense of fairness. (1388)

Pirates defy the rule of law under hierarchical governments that fail to provide a moral economy. They create their own rules and cultural norms. They take action rather than sit quietly while rights are violated. Yes, there is violence. Yes, other members of society suffer losses at the hands of pirates. However, looking from a distance, it is possible to see the arc of change that occurs due to piratical movements. Golden Age pirates were able to disrupt harmful monopolized trade practices. Somali pirates forced leaders to reform a centralized government. It is yet to be seen what anarchist groups in the US such as Rose City Antifa and the Black Bloc will accomplish. One thing is certain: they are drawing attention to difficult issues. Perhaps the multiple recent bold acts of anarchist groups portend more rebellion in our society’s future.

Pirates can be seen as oracles of change. Dawdy and Bonni warn that “we might look for a surge in piracy in both representation and action as an indication that a major turn of the wheel is about to occur” (696). These anthropological ideas reflect the simmering political currents we are experiencing now in 2017. The call for jobs and fair compensation are getting louder and louder. Political polarization continues to freeze up the government, rendering them ineffectual. Worse, elected officials appear more concerned with ideology and campaign funding than the plight of the common man. They leave their own constituents’ needs abandoned. Citizens may turn to extreme political philosophies such as anarchy as a way to take piratical action to counteract economic disparity. A pervasive sense of powerlessness and underrepresentation may lead to the splintering of societal structure, even rebellion. Shrugging off accountability to the system as a countermeasure to what is seen as government’s inability to provide a free and fair system. This may be seen as empowering to the public. It may also signal a breakdown of centralized government. If political structures cannot provide economic stability, will citizens ultimately decide to tear it all down?

Teacher Takeaways

“The student makes great use of a variety of sources to provide complex and numerous perspectives on the issue, using both academic and non-academic sources, which allows us to see the topic from both historical and contemporary viewpoints. The student also synthesizes the information from these sources with their own ideas very well by paraphrasing and summarizing. Some of the shorter paragraphs seem as though they continue the ideas and thoughts of those around them and could likely be merged rather than allowed to stand on their own. It is also a little unclear what the student is arguing for. Is this an examination of piracy through history and in contemporary times? Or is it an argument that piracy is a symptom of failed governments that eventually benefit the oppressed? While the introduction and conclusion are engaging, captivating, and pose great questions, the student should revise with an eye toward giving a clear statement of what they are truly arguing for, or how their research throughout the body of the essay speaks to that argument.”– Professor Dannemiller

Works Cited

“About Rose City Antifa.” Rose City Antifa.

“Anarchy.” English Oxford Living Dictionaries, 2017,

Chappell, Bill. “Portland Police Arrest 25, Saying A May Day Rally Devolved Into ‘Riot’.” Oregon Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, 2 May 2017,

Dawdy, S. L. & Bonni, J. “Towards a General Theory of Piracy.” Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 85, no. 3, 2013, pp. 673-699. Project MUSE, doi.: 10.1353/anq.2012.0043.

Farley, Donovan. “These Black Bloc Anarchists Don’t Care What You Think of Them.” VICE, 2 June 2017,

Hirshleifer, Jack. “Anarchy and Its Breakdown.” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 103, no. 1, 1995, pp. 26-52. JSTOR,

“I Am Not a Pirate.” This American Life, episode 616, National Public Radio, 5 May 2017,

Otto, Lisa. “Benefits of Buccaneering: The Political Economy of Maritime Piracy in Somalia and Kenya.” African Security Review, vol. 20, no. 4, 2011, pp. 45-52. Taylor & Francis,

Samatar, Abdi Ismail, Mark Lindberg, and Basil Mahayni. “The Dialectics of Piracy in Somalia: The Rich Versus the Poor.” Third World Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 8, 2010, pp. 1377-1394. EBSCO, doi: 10.1080/01436597.2010.538238.

Skowronek, Russell K. and Charles R. Ewen, editors. X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy, University Press of Florida, 2006.

Snelders, Stephen, with a preface by Peter Lamborn Wilson. The Devils Anarchy: The Sea Robberies of the Most Famous Pirate Claes G. Compaen and The Very Remarkable Travels of Jan Erasmus Reyning, Buccaneer, Autonomedia, 2005.

The Hysterical Woman12

(Research essay – see the research proposal here and annotated bibliography here)

Hysteria was a medical recognition dating back to 1900 BC, diagnosed by physicians liberally until recent times. The term Hysteria comes from the Greek word “Hystera,” which literally translates into “uterus.” The diagnosis and treatment of Hysteria were routine for hundreds of years in Western Europe and the United States, mainly for keeping women in line. Symptoms that indicated Hysteria were broad and all encompassing: nervousness, sexual desire, faintness, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite, depression, heaviness in abdomen, etc. The number of diagnosed cases of Hysteria slowed as medical advancements proceeded, and in the early 1960’s (coinciding with the popularization of feminism) the “disease” ceased to be considered a true medical disorder. In modern medicine, the treatment and diagnosis of female medical issues continues to be vague and potentially harmful due to lack of knowledge. Does the concept of female Hysteria have continuity today? Although the vocabulary has changed, it is clear that the practice of ignoring serious medical ailments based on sex remains prominent in the world of medicine, and contributes to the continuation of harmful gender stereotypes.

The beginnings of Hysteria can be followed back to ancient Egypt, around 1900 BC, when a “misplaced womb” was commonly thought to be the cause of the disease. Plato later expanded on this concept around 500 BC with his explanation of the womb as a living creature that sought to disrupt biological processes, impede breathing, limit emotional regulation, and cause disease (Adair). While Plato agreed with the prevailing theories of the time in regard to the effect of Hysteria, his ideas differed slightly on the cause. It was taken as fact that Hysteria was due to a hormonal imbalance within the female body, causing those afflicted to act out irrationally, or fall into a fit of anger. Plato, however, introduced the idea that Hysteria was due to a “moving psychological force, which arises from the womb: sexual desire perverted by frustration” (Adair). It is important to note that his theory, more insightful than anything that had been proposed before, would be opposed by physicians and commentators for nearly two thousand years following. A more sophisticated and medically forward concept of a psychiatric rather than physical affliction would not be seen for years to come.

The time and place that Hysteria saw its highest peak in relevance was around 1800-1900 in Western countries. Where Hysteria was previously diagnosed to females who “acted out” or showed signs of irritability, the diagnoses were given out for less specific symptoms in the 1800s. The women who attempted to deviate from the domestic standards of their gender, those who were depressed, and those who were irritable were now also labeled as “hysterical” (Culp-Ressler). Perhaps not so coincidentally was the simultaneous increase in frequency of Hysteria diagnoses and rise in popularity of Freudian psychoanalysis (Scull). This is necessary to consider because Freud himself placed a great deal of importance on gender roles and normative societal behavior of the sexes. It should then come as no surprise that both the stigma for being diagnosed with Hysteria, as well as the treatments and “cures” for the disease, were sexist during this time.

Women labeled “hysterical” in the 1800s and 1900s were placed in insane asylums, given the Rest Cure, and in some extreme cases given hysterectomies (Culp-Ressler). The main goal of the Rest Cure treatment was to confine women in rooms that were not distracting, over-feed them with the goal of weight gain, and allow them no visitors in order to limit their “stressors” and revive them back to their normal temperaments. An article published within the American Journal of Nursing in 1936 describes the daily life of a Rest Cure patient: “I’m having a rest cure and I can’t see anybody … and all I have to do is eat and sleep and not worry about anything. Just rest … and that’s just what I’m doing. I may not look it but that’s just what I’m doing” (“The Rest Cure” 451). The article is just one of many accounts, fictional and otherwise, that provide a look into how women that were labeled “hysterical” were treated. It was believed that if women were able to limit their stressful tasks that they would be likely to remain delicate, proper, and feminine—desirable traits in a Victorian wife and mother. John Harvey Kellogg’s book titled Ladies Guide in Health and Disease: Girlhood, Maidenhood, Wifehood, Motherhood was a common source on explaining to women the necessary steps they ought to take in order to lead healthy, childbearing lives. On the topic of Hysteria, Kellogg notes that the common causes are “sexual excess, novel reading, perverted habits of thought, and idleness” (586). As Kellogg mentions that the disease is one of “morality”, he further shames women into lives free of hard work and free thinking. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of “The Yellow Wallpaper” (a fictional tell-all of her experience with the Rest Cure), once wrote a letter detailing the lifestyle she was told to lead in order to keep her unruly nerves at bay. She was given advice to “live as domestic a life as far as possible”, to “have but two hours’ intellectual life a day”, and “never touch pen, brush, or pencil again” as long as she lived (Gilman). As gender norms went unquestioned in the Victorian era, as did the sexism visible in the medical world.

Due to Hysteria’s feminine association, it was further deemed shameful and embarrassing. This stereotype was promoted after the Second World War, when many soldiers returning home from battle were diagnosed with nervous diseases, most specifically Hysteria (Scull). Due to nervous diseases being seen as feminine afflictions of the imagination, these men received little to no treatment—similar to females diagnosed with Hysteria. These men were seen as cowardly and inferior for a malady that today would be easily recognizable as post-traumatic stress disorder. While the patients were male, they were seen as contracting a feminine disease that was “made up in the mind” (Scull), therefore hindering the help that they needed. The lack of attention shown to these soldiers reinforces the idea of a bias that exists with illnesses that are associated with women.

During the 1960s and 1970s, feminist writers were quick to isolate Hysteria’s literal definition in order to successfully convey criticisms of Freud’s psychoanalytic treatments of the “disease” (“Brought”). Women of this age began to critique the healthcare system, and were able to expose the effect of sexism in medicine. Because of fervent denunciations, the term slowly fell out of medical use but remained a common phrase in day-to-day conversations. Hysteria was officially removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980 (Culp-Ressler), and is now considered a derogatory term. Many physicians and psychologists attempted to continue the diagnosis of the disease, but under new, more socially acceptable terms. Freud himself claimed to change focus to one’s “sexual conflicts” within (Scull), and the effects. He then created a way of disguising old ideas of Hysteria behind fresh words. This trend carries on today despite opportunities to change the culture.

One of the more surprising turns in the history of Hysteria as a concept, is the reclamation of the word by 1990s feminists. In striking contrast to the views held by progressive women of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, some ‘90s women sought to recover and take ownership of the inherently feminine rights of Hysteria. Elaine Showalter, an author of the 90s on the topics of Hysteria, gender, and feminism, claims that “for some writers, Hysteria has been claimed as the first step on the road to feminism, a specifically feminine pathology that speaks to and against the patriarchy” (286). Interestingly, prior to this time, Hysteria was dubbed a tool of the patriarchy and that notion held true amongst feminists. This insight from Showalter addresses the lengths that sexism can reach. Internalization of patriarchal views on sex is a common effect, especially with views that are enforced blindly without question. The concept of an irrational woman, or a woman possessed by emotion rang true for some women of the ‘90s, but they saw this falsehood as something to be proud of, and something to aspire to. In their attempts to argue the reclamation of Hysteria, they succumb to the long-enforced stereotypes that many fought to destroy. While emotion, passion, and vulnerability aren’t necessarily traits to be ashamed of, they were used through the trustful relationship of physicians as a tool to suppress the social, economic, and personal growth of women through the diagnoses of nervous diseases.

Stereotypes of the feminine gender have made their way into modern medicine as well. As women are socialized from birth to be passive and to respect authority, more specifically male authority, it is uncommon for a woman to resist the diagnosis received from a physician. Typically, if a woman is told that she is a hypochondriac, or that her symptoms are psychosomatic (all in her head), she will most likely internalize the notion that she is imagining all of her issues. The term “psychosomatic” is a cover-all diagnosis commonly used by physicians to attribute to any symptoms that cannot be explained. As a result, many women continue suffering through treatable and preventable diseases because they are fearful of being told that they are overreacting (Culp-Ressler). This demonstrates that even within ourselves, women fear falling into the feminine gender stereotypes of irrational and excessive behavior—internalized misogyny presents itself here.

From this, we must ask why do we, as individuals and as a society, not trust women to know their own bodies? We see this in cases ranging from the extreme to the everyday—from the treatment of rape survivors to a typical visit to the doctor’s office. Aside from flaws in women’s reproductive health care, there is also a well-documented gap in the treatment of pain between men and women. Of the 25% of Americans suffering from chronic pain, women make up a disproportionate majority (Edwards). Not only are women more likely to suffer from chronic pain, but that pain is more likely to be categorized as “emotional,” “psychogenic,” or “not real”. Women are also less likely than men to receive aggressive treatment after being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases that cause chronic pain (Edwards). Multiple studies have found that women are far less likely to receive any kind of medical intervention to manage pain (Culp-Ressler). Why? Pain is self-reported and subjective, and treatment of pain fully relies on the idea that a physician trusts the patient reporting symptoms. However, trusting a woman to be a reliable source on her own body is still not the norm. This practice contributes to the long-standing cycle of attributing women’s pain to mental disorders, thus reinforcing the stereotype of the Hysterical Woman.

While many medical professionals would agree that there needs to be a shift in how we look at both the gender and sex dynamics of healthcare, there is little being done about it. Clinical trials are just one example. Women make up roughly half of the country’s population, but an astonishing majority of participants in clinical trials within the United States are men. According to the Journal of Women’s Health, in 2004, women made up less than 25% of all patients enrolled in clinical trials for that year (Moyer). The reasoning for this is that women present a less uniform sample population: they have menstrual cycles and hormones, making results more difficult to analyze. However, this does not eradicate the need for personalized care being available to women. This bias is decades-old, and leads doctors to preferentially study diseases and test drugs in male participants. A bias this prominent is a serious health risk for women, limits the reach of our preventative care and hinders growth of scientific knowledge. Another struggle presenting itself is the unwillingness of medical professionals to make use of what little sex-specific data has been found. For example, despite well-recognized sex differences in coronary heart disease management in critical care units, the guidelines for management are not sex-specific (Holdcroft). Unfortunately, guidelines rarely state that evidence has been mainly obtained from men; disregarding this information perpetuates inequality in treatment of disease and distribution of medication.

The limited scope of our current knowledge on gender/sex differences can be observed in newly discovered differences in disease symptoms, as well as the continuing decrease of the life expectancy gap. Biased medical research and practice focuses on gender differences, and therefore risks overlooking similarities. For example, coronary heart disease was once perceived as strictly affecting males; therefore, less research and attention was given to the possibility of women contracting the disease (Annandale). Now, perhaps as a result, coronary heart disease kills more women than men. Women in the 1960s and 70s lived markedly longer than men, but in recent years the gap has decreased (Ibid.), and shrunken more than one third since the early 80s.The exact cause of the decline in the gender life expectancy gap cannot be pinpointed due to a number of confounding variables. The increase in women working to retirement and the added stress of contributing financially as well as taking full responsibility of children are just a few. One widely debated cause of the gap decrease is the fact that the quality of men’s healthcare is surpassing that of women’s. The standard of disregarding women from clinical trials creates an unhealthy environment of willful ignorance on the topic of women’s healthcare due to stereotypes, and the effects are measurable.

With the sex-biased culture of medicine so ingrained into its academia and practice, the task of eradicating it seems all the more important. This becomes more true as a greater percent of the population becomes aware of gender stereotypes and the harm that they cause. Unfortunately, due to fear of being labeled a hypochondriac, or neurotic, women refrain from telling their medical experiences and demanding quality care. With a majority of women experiencing patriarchal authority during doctor visits, and many women sharing similar stories of struggling with a lack of accurate diagnosis, it’s a shame that this topic isn’t discussed on a broad scope. If experiences were documented, it would be a faster way to make society more aware of this specific branch of inequality and how it contributes to negative gender stereotypes.

A practical way of accomplishing this would be to implement changes into the medical school curricula. We should seize the opportunity to implement the best practices for healthcare regardless of gender identification, as well as to establish evidence-based guidance that focuses on both gender and sex differences. Informing

future physicians that it is not in the best interest of the patient to quickly jump to the conclusion that their symptoms are psychosomatic, or to share stories of specific experiences would eventually trickle down into the medical culture.

Informing these students that it is within the realm of possibility that these women might be presenting symptoms to an affliction that is not well understood, even by modern medicine. The exercise of attributing the valid symptoms of women to mental disorders has been commonplace for centuries—Hysteria, Conversion, etc. While the name continues to change, the meanings behind them stay the same, and women continue to be subjected to sexism, and low-quality healthcare as a result. Acknowledging the bias within is the first and most important step to moving forward and increasing the quality of women’s healthcare.

Teacher Takeaways

“This student presents a solid and well-researched argument that builds off a clearly stated thesis in the introduction and returns to this thesis in the conclusion with a fully developed call-to-action and prompt for continued research. Each paragraph follows the path of the thesis’s spine, elaborating on the historical contexts the student first presents, to introduce new complexities and further evidence of how these claims add to the need for response to the bias against women in health care. Although the student synthesizes paraphrases, quotes, and summaries well most of the time, there are moments (mostly later in the essay) in which the student gives us information without clearly signaling or citing where that information is coming from.”– Professor Dannemiller


Works Cited

Adair, Mark J. “Plato’s View of the ‘Wandering Uterus’.” The Classical Journal, vol. 91, no. 2, 1995, pp. 153-163. JSTOR,

Annandale, Ellen. Womens Health and Social Change, Routledge, 2009.

“Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine – Hysteria.” Science Museum,

Culp-Ressler, Tara. “When Gender Stereotypes Become a Serious Hazard to Women’s Health.” ThinkProgress, 11 May 2015,

Edwards, Laurie. “The Gender Gap in Pain.” The New York Times, 16 Mar 2013,

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” 1913. Archived at The College of Staten Island, City University of New York, 8 June 1999,

Holdcroft, Anita. “Gender Bias in Research: How Does It Affect Evidence Based Medicine?” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 100, no. 1, Jan. 2007, pp. 2-3. U.S. National Library of Medicine, doi: 10.1258/jrsm.100.1.2.

Kellogg, John Harvey. Ladies Guide in Health and Disease: Girlhood, Maidenhood, Wifehood, Motherhood, Modern Medicine Publishing Co., 1896. Archived by University of North Texas Health Science Center, 4 March 2011,

Moyer, Melinda Wenner. “Women Aren’t Properly Represented in Scientific Studies.” Slate Magazine, 23 July 2010,

“The Rest Cure.” The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 36, no. 5, 1936, pp. 451-451. JSTOR,

Scull, Andrew. Hysteria: The Disturbing History, Oxford University Press, 2011.

Showalter, Elaine. “Hysteria, Feminism, and Gender.” Hysteria Beyond Freud, University of California Press, 1993.

1 Baotic, Anton, Florian Sicks and Angela S. Stoeger. “Nocturnal ‘Humming’ Vocalizations: Adding a Piece of the Puzzle of Giraffe Vocal Communication.” BioMed Central Research Notes vol. 8, no. 425, 2015. US National Library of Medicine, doi 10.1186/s13104-015-1394-3.
2 One particularly useful additional resource is the text “Annoying Ways People Use Sources,” externally linked in the Additional Recommended Resources appendix of this book.
3 Greenough 215.Greenough, Paul. “Pathogens, Pugmarks, and Political ‘Emergency’: The 1970s South Asian Debate on Nature.” Nature in the Global South: Environmental Projects in South and Southeast Asia, Duke University Press, 2003, pp. 201-230.
4 Excerpt by Jesse Carroll, Portland State University, 2015. Reproduced with permission from the student author.
5 Ibid.
6 Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Ballantine, 2013.
7 Annotated bibliography by Celso Naranjo, Portland State University, 2017. Reproduced with permission from the student author.
8 Annotated bibliography by Kathryn Morris, Portland State University, 2017. Reproduced with permission from the student author.
9 Annotated bibliography by Hannah Zarnick, Portland State University, 2017. Reproduced with permission from the student author.
10 Essay by Christopher Gaylord, Portland State University, 2017. Reproduced with permission from the student author.
11 Essay by Kathryn Morris, Portland State University, 2017. Reproduced with permission from the student author.
12 Essay by Hannah Zarnick, Portland State University, 2017. Reproduced with permission from the student author.


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